By Ross Kelly
SYDNEY--Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. (WCB.AU) said it had endorsed a sweetened takeover bid from Canada's Saputo Inc. (SAP.T) that values the Australian dairy producer at about 514.9 million Australian dollars (US$472.4 million).
Hoping to deliver the knock-out blow in a three-way bidding war for Warrnambool, Saputo is now offering A$9.20 per Warrnambool share, conditional on acquiring more than 50% of the company. That's above its previous offer of A$9.00 and beats competing bids from Murray-Goulburn Co-operative Co. and Bega Cheese Ltd. (BGA.AU).
Murray-Goulburn and Bega already have stakes in Warrnambool of around 18% and 17%, respectively, giving them a combined holding of 35%.
A fourth player, Japan's Kirin Holdings Co., entered the fray last month by taking 10% stake in Warrnambool, which produces Kirin's flagship cheese brands in Australia. Kirin said at the time it wanted to buy enough influence to protect its supply arrangements with Warrnambool.
Write to Ross Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 25, 2013 08:41 ET (13:41 GMT)Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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