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By Colin Packham
SYDNEY, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Murray Goulburn Co-operative, Australia’s largest milk processor, said on Thursday it was considering several takeover approaches from suitors interested in acquiring the cooperative as a whole or some of its assets, but it had not received any formal offers.
“Murray Goulburn and its financial advisor Deutsche Bank are engaging with a number of parties to assess their proposals, including valuation,” the Australian dairy company said in a statement.
“Murray Goulburn notes there is no certainty that any transaction will eventuate.”
However, the dairy cooperative rejected local media speculation that China’s Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co Ltd submitted a takeover offer of A$1.20 ($0.9545) a share for Murray Goulburn’s listed entity, MG Unit Trust .
While Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group has yet to submit a formal approach, the Chinese dairy company said on Thursday it submitted a proposal to Murray Goulburn.
Shares in MG Unit Trust posted their biggest ever intraday percentage gain, soaring as much as 21.9 percent to a four-month high.
Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group is also likely to face competition, with Bega Cheese Ltd last month confirming it was also interested in acquiring its local competitor.
Murray Goulburn’s cooperative structure makes a full takeover difficult as 90 percent of its farmer owners would need to agree to a deal. But the company’s 10 processing plants and its dairy brands are likely to draw plenty of interest, analysts said.
Murray Goulburn has been forced to consider takeover approaches as the company reels from a ill-fated Asian expansion that drove the cooperative to report last month its first annual loss since its 2015 listing.
Murray Goulburn, which has A$735 million in equity and A$444.5 million in net debt, had sought to expand aggressively in Asia. But sales to China fell far below expectations and it was forced to cut the price it paid suppliers by up to 20 percent. ($1 = 1.2572 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)