SYDNEY Dec 17 Saputo Inc has agreed to
raise its bid for Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter
Factory Holdings Co, dependent on acceptances, and
extend the offer period following a rap over the knuckles from
the country's takeover regulator.
The Takeovers Panel said on Tuesday that complex changes to
the Canadian dairy company's agreed offer for Warrnambool were
"most undesirable" and "caused confusion and disruption in the
market for Warrnambool shares."
However, it stopped short of issuing a so-called
"declaration of unacceptable circumstances," which could have
nixed Saputo's sweetened offer, and instead accepted key changes
to the bid by Saputo and Warrnambool.
Saputo last month declared its bid unconditional and said it
would hike the offer from A$9.00 to A$9.20 in cash if it won
more than 50 percent acceptances. Under the agreement with the
panel, that now rises to A$9.40 with 75 percent acceptances and
A$9.60 with 90 percent acceptances. Saputo also declared the
offer final, meaning it cannot make further changes.
Saputo, which is in a three-way battle with Australian
rivals Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co Ltd and Bega Cheese Ltd
for Australia's oldest dairy company, also agreed to
extend the offer period from Dec. 20 to Jan. 10.
The Takeovers Panel put Saputo's A$515 million bid on hold
on Nov. 29, ruling that it must stop processing acceptances for
its offer, after complaints from Murray Goulburn and Bega that
its most recent bid was misleading.
Warrnambool had announced it intended to declare special
dividends if Saputo's bid reached certain thresholds, while
Saputo announced accepting shareholders would be able to receive
part of their consideration in the form of franked dividends.
Those plans were revoked on Nov. 25.