Japan's Kirin has no plans to exit Warrnambool stake

By VCPOST Staff Reporter

Jan 08, 2014 01:34 AM EST

Kirin Holdings Ltd does not plan to exit its 9.99% stake in Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Ltd to Canada's Saputo Inc, according to Business Spectator.

The Japanese food and beverage giant wants to ensure that Saputo continues a deal to annually supply 10,000 tons of cheese in the event of a Warrnambool takeover. Kirin's local unit Lion has a supply agreement with Warrnambool's Allansford factory that ends in 2015, the report detailed.

Saputo has emphasized that it has no intentions of ending its contract with Lion. The Kirin unit has no alternative cheese supplier for its "Cracker Barrel" and "Coon" brands, the report explained.

Without Kirin's stake, Saputo is not necessarily hindered from taking a majority stake. However, having only about 18.1% stake in Warrnambool so far, Bega Cheese Ltd's 18.8% is crucial to Saputo's plans, the report said.

The Montreal-based firm is trying to convince Bega to sell its shares, hoping that the sale would prompt other investors to concede with Saputo's $9-per-share offer and grant it a majority Warrnambool holding, Business Spectator reported.

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