Saputo likely to fall short in bid for controlling interest in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter

SAPUTO has edged fractionally closer to its target of taking over Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB), but is still a long way short of a controlling interest.

The Canadian dairy processor yesterday announced that its holding had increased to 20.14 per cent, up from the 18.9 per cent it held on December 24.

With the company’s offer due to close at 7pm this evening, Saputo seems unlikely to make much more progress.

The offer can be extended and Saputo can announce an extension at any time up until close.

A company contact told The Standard earlier this week an extension was unlikely, but independent business observers think it is likely.

Meanwhile, trading in WCB shares has been lively this week, with 1.05 million shares, or 1.9 per cent of the register, sold on-market since Monday.

The trading surge coincides with the announcement by Murray Goulburn that it intends to exercise its right to buy on-market up to a level of 19.9 per cent holding.

No announcement has been made to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) to link the surge with Murray Goulburn’s announcement.

Murray Goulburn holds 17.7 per cent of the register and would have to make an ASX declaration on increasing this by more than 1 per cent.

Steve Hynes is a WCB shareholder

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