WCB ruling review

CANADIAN dairy company Saputo yesterday declined to comment on a report that it would fight a decision by the Takeovers Panel if it ruled against the firm.

“We are strictly not allowed to comment on a matter that is before the Takeovers Panel,” a media spokesman said.

The online business journal Business Spectator reported that Saputo was prepared to appeal for a review if it doesn’t agree with the panel’s decision.

Saputo’s bid to take over Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has been stalled by an interim order from the Takeovers Panel ordering a halt to accepting shares.

Saputo had secured 13.6 per cent of WCB shares at the time of the order. The report says Saputo would prefer the Takeovers Panel to enter discussions with it before issuing orders that could potentially force changes to the terms and conditions of its offer.

Saputo’s offer was referred to the panel by rival bidder Murray Goulburn on the grounds that its modified offer of $9 to $9.20 per share deprived those who had accepted an earlier offer of receiving all they had agreed to.

The earlier offer held the possibility of receiving the equivalent of $9.56 per share through the addition of franking credits in the event of a full takeover.

Saputo can ask for a panel decision to be reviewed but its orders can be enforced by a court after the review process.

A ruling by the Takeovers Panel may be delivered on Friday.

shynes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

n Steve Hynes is a WCB shareholder.

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