A LONG-TIME supplier of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) has slammed the company’s decision to recommend selling to Saputo.
Wim Kampschoer, who runs a 400-cow dairy at Cooriemungle and also owns WCB shares, said Bega Cheese was in a far better position to improve WCB’s performance than Canadian-owned Saputo.
“Bega can bring a lot of knowledge and synergy to the company — far more than anything Saputo will bring,” Mr Kampschoer said.
His comments followed WCB’s recommendation to shareholders that they accept an offer of $7 per share from Saputo, which is looking for a foothold in the Australian market.
The directors had earlier advised against accepting a lower offer from Australian-owned Bega Cheese of 1.2 of its own shares plus $2 for each WCB share, an offer that was worth $6.44 at yesterday’s trading price.
Mr Kampschoer questioned the WCB directors’ assertion that Saputo is more capable of expanding the WCB business than Bega.
He said Bega executive chairman Barry Irvin had an intimate knowledge of WCB’s strengths and weaknesses from his time as a WCB director.
Mr Irvin took up a position on the WCB board in 2010 when Bega took a 15 per cent stake in the company through a share issue deal.
He resigned from the post in May, clearing the way to make a takeover bid.
“Barry Irvin has seen the company from the inside — he knows it is under performing and he understands the reasons. He understands its strengths and weaknesses and knows the Australian dairy industry.”
Mr Kampschoer said the synergies that Bega would bring would allow it to overcome many of the limitations that have constrained WCB’s performance.
“There will be no synergies and none of the understanding from Saputo.”
Mr Kampschoer said he would probably move his supply to Bega or Murray Goulburn if a Saputo takeover went ahead.
“I want to be part of the Australian dairy industry — I want to supply an Australian company.”
Shares in WCB continued to trade above Saputo’s offer price yesterday, selling between $7.21 and $7.27, indicating that the market thinks another offer is on the cards.
Bega shares reached a record $3.79 before closing the day at $3.70.