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Saputo clinches Australian dairy deal as rival waves white flag

Head office and manufacturing company Saputo Inc., seen in Montreal, November 14, 2013.

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

Saputo Inc.'s holdout rival in the bidding war for Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has waved the white flag.

Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Ltd. has agreed to sell its shares in Warrnambool to Montreal-based Saputo, a move that will push Saputo's majority interest in Warrnambool above the 75-per-cent threshold.

Saputo said on Wednesday it secured majority control of Warrnambool, with a 52.7-per-cent position, essentially ending a months-long fight for control of Warrnambool.

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The win for Saputo gives it a key platform from which to sell into Asian markets where demand for dairy products and milk extracts is growing at a rapid clip.

Murray Goulburn's has a 17.2-per-cent holding in Warrnambool.

Saputo's offer for Warrnambool rose to $9.20 (Australian) per share from $9.00 when its stake rose above 50 per cent.

With the stake increasing to 75 per cent, Saputo's offer rises again to $9.40 per share.

Last week, former rival Bega Cheese Ltd. agreed to sell its 18.8 per cent stake to Saputo.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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