Saputo takes WCB stake up to 20 per cent

SAPUTO has increased its holding in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter WCB) to 20.14 per cent.

The announcement to the Australian Securities Commission this morning marked an increase from 17.9 per cent on December 24.

Saputo's $9-a-share cash offer closes at 7pm tomorrow unless the company chooses to extend the period.

According to the latest substantial filings, Canadian-owned Saputo is now the single-biggest shareholder in WCB, jumping from 17.9 per cent to 20.1 per cent.

The Canadian company is locked in a battle with Murray Goulburn for control of WCB, which has offered $9.50 a share in cash and owns 17.7 per cent of WCB. 

Its offer remains conditional on getting more than 50 per cent of the company and receiving merger approval from the Australian Competition Tribunal.

All eyes are on Bega Cheese and its intentions with its 18.8 per cent WCB stake. Bega kicked off the WCB bidding war in September with its offer of $2 cash and 1.2 Bega shares, but pulled out of the race last month when the bidding got too hot.

Japanese-owned Lion’s 10 per cent WCB is also being pursued by Saputo and Murray Goulburn, but the company has indicated it wants to move when the winning bidder is clear to leverage its negotiating power to full effect.

Lion has significant cheese supply contracts with WCB.

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