Australia’s largest dairy company, Murray Goulburn, has made a fresh offer to take over rival processor Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.
The co-operative made the offer this morning, a day after Treasurer Joe Hockey gave approval to a rival bid by Canadian company Saputo.
Murray Goulburn’s original offer was $7.50 per share.
It is now offering $9 per share, with Saputo offering $8 per share, while a third bid by Bega Cheese is offering cash and a share swap.
The board of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has previously stated that it would support Saputo’s bid in the absence of any better offer.
In a statement, managing director Gary Helou remains steadfast in his commitment to take over Warrnambool.
“MG remains firmly committed to acquiring WCB.
“A combined MG and WCB will create a globally competitive dairy food company which will deliver many opportunities for Australian dairy farmers and their communities.”
Mr Helou says his company is better positioned than Saputo to expand exports in Asia.
“Well, this is Australian first, it’s our backyard, this is our industry, and Asia is our neighbourhood.
“I think we are best positioned as Australia’s largest dairy company to look after the interests of our industry and the interests of our dairy farmers.
“Saputo’s interest is with Saputo shareholder interest which is profit and returns.”
Bega Cheese has not ruled out making another bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.
Executive chairman Barry Irvin believes Murray Goulburn’s most recent offer of $9 per share represents “full value.”
He says Bega Cheese must be cautious with its next move in the bidding process.
“Everybody would recognise that it certainly represents a full value and it is why Bega is being very disciplined in the way it views its bid on Warrnambool Cheese and Butter,” Mr Irvin said.
“I’ve said from the very start that this was always about trying to improve returns to both dairy farmer suppliers and shareholders.”
Source: ABC Rural