Australia's Bega Cheese sells 18.8 pct Warrnambool stake to Saputo

SYDNEY Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:09pm EST

SYDNEY Jan 16 (Reuters) - Australia's Bega Cheese Ltd said on Thursday it will sell its 18.8 percent stake in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co. Holdings Ltd to Saputo Inc, a major breakthrough for the Canadian company in an extended takeover battle.

Saputo, which has been battling local dairy company Murray Goulburn for Warrnambool, will add the Bega stake to its existing holding of 26.4 percent, based on the latest share information available. That would give Saputo a 45.2 percent stake in the company, Australia's oldest dairy maker.

Murray Goulburn is still awaiting regulatory approval for its bid. It currently owns 17.7 percent of Warrnambool.

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