Saputo increases stake in Australia's Warrambool for the third time

By VCPOST Staff Reporter

Jan 13, 2014 01:27 AM EST

For the third time, Canadian dairy firm Saputo Inc has increased its holding in takeover target Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Ltd. The latest stake increase has cemented Saputo's status as the largest shareholder in the Australian dairy supplier, according to Business Spectator.

Warrnambool told the Australian Securities Exchange that Saputo had lifted its stake from 21.392% to 26.445%, the report said.

Last week, the Canadian diary firm increased its holding twice, from 20.141%, then to 21.392%. The stake hikes came as Saputo confirmed the extension of its $504-million takeover offer for the Australian supplier. Saputo also said the offer period is set to end on January 22 at 1900 AEDT, the report detailed.

According to The Australian Financial Review (AFR), United Dairy Power (UDP), the biggest private milk processor in Australia, had backed Saputo's bid for Warrnambool, the report added.

The paper also reported that UDP chief Tony Esposito said Australia's dairy sector would benefit from foreign ownership more than a co-operative structure. Esposito dismissed bidder Murray Goulburn's claims that a co-operative structure would be more beneficial to the dairy farmers, Business Spectator reported.

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