SYDNEY Jan 22 Canada's Saputo Inc said
on Wednesday it has secured majority control of Australia's
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co Holdings Ltd,
putting pressure on rival bidder Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co
to concede defeat.
Saputo said it had increased its shareholding in Australia's
oldest dairy maker to 52.7 percent, giving it control after a
months-long battle aimed at tapping growing demand in Asia for
both traditional dairy products and high-tech milk extracts.
Murray Goulburn said it would "commercially assess" its 17.7
percent shareholding, noting that Saputo's offer rises to A$9.20
per share from the base A$9.00 per share, or A$515 million
($453.33 million), having reached the 50 percent threshold.
Saputo's offer will rise again to A$9.40 per share on 75
percent acceptances and A$9.60 per share, or A$537 million, on
90 percent acceptances. That top level puts it above Murray
Goulburn's A$9.50 per share, or A$532 million, offer, but that
is conditional on both acceptances of 50 percent and regulatory
approval that is not due until next month.
Former rival bidder Bega Cheese Ltd gave Saputo's
offer a leg-up last week when it sold its 18.8 percent stake to
the Canadian company.
The Saputo offer, scheduled to close on Wednesday, is
automatically extended to Feb. 4 after reaching the control
($1 = 1.1360 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang and Jane Wardell; Editing by