Saputo launches ‘improved and simplified’ WCB takeover bid

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Stock, Butter

Saputo launches ‘improved and simplified’ WCB takeover bid
Canadian dairy giant Saputo has tabled an “improved and simplified” takeover offer for in-demand Australian dairy Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB).

Quebec-based Saputo, which already boasts operations in Canada, the US, and Argentina, announced yesterday that it will increase its bid from AU$9.00 (US$8.20) per share to $9.20 (US$8.40) if more than 50% of Warrnambool’s shareholders accept the offer.

It has also removed all conditions from its 15 November 2013 AU$9.00 per share offer.

WCB’s board of directors has again reaffirmed its “unanimous recommendation”​ to shareholders that they accept Saputo’s offer “in the absence of a superior proposal.”

Straight forward and compelling

Commenting, Terry Richardson, chairman of WCB, branded Saputo’s latest bid "very straight forward and compelling."

“If this price increase applies, all shareholders will receive the benefit of the price increase regardless of when they accept. Now that the offer is unconditional, all WCB directors and WCB executives intend to accept the amended Saputo offer without delay,” ​said Richardson.

Saputo’s offer is scheduled to close at 7pm Melbourne time on Friday 13 December 2013.

Reduction in implied value

WCB, which manufactures a wide range of dairy products for the Australian market and export, became the unexpected subject of a three-way bidding war between Saputo and Australian dairy processors, Murray Goulburn and Bega Cheese, earlier this year.

Murray Goulburn, Australia’s largest dairy cooperative, is hottest on the heels of Saputo, with its conditional AU$9.00 per share takeover offer for WCB.

Commenting on Saputo’s latest offer, Murray Goulburn claimed that the amended terms actually “represent a reduction in the implied value of Saputo’s offer to certain WCB shareholders.”

“As such, we urge WCB shareholders not to rush their decision to sell their WCB shares,”​ the company said in a statement.

“Murray Goulburn believes its own $9.00 cash per share offer continues to represent compelling value for WCB shareholders, is simple and straightforward, and delivers an Australian-owned and operated company with the scale, capacity, strength and momentum to service global growth opportunities.”

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