Murray could lift WCB offer

Gary Helou says bidding war for Warrnambool is far from over.

Murray Goulburn Co-operative managing director Gary Helou says the heated bidding war for Warrnambool Cheese & ­Butter Factory (WCB) is far from over, admitting he is considering increasing his group's bid for the much sought-after target, The Australian Financial Review reports.

According to the newspaper, Mr Helou declined to say how much Murray Goulburn intened to, or in fact could, lift is offer to, but analysts say it would have to be more than $10 a share if it is topple the consistently preferred bids from Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

“It is not over by a long way. We bid $9 [last week] and now ­everybody is catching up. We are not out. It is not over for us. We will be there until the last round,” Mr Helou said.

Trading in Warrnambool shares is set to resume today after the Victorian company's board over the weekend backed an increased offer from Saputo.

Warrnambool on Friday requested a trading halt during the negotiation of a revised offer from Saputo.

The Canadian company later increased its offer to $9 a share and made it unconditional, so trading should resume this morning.

Warrnambool board chairman Terry Richardson said it was the best proposal for shareholders at present.

"The board has decided to unanimously recommend the revised Saputo offer, in the absence of a superior proposal," he said in a statement.

The company originally offered $7 a share before increasing that to $8 and then to $9 late on Friday. Its latest offer matches the one by Australia's Murray Goulburn Co-operative that values the company at $505 million.

A third bidder, Uncapped 100 company Bega Cheese, increased its original bid of 1.2 of its shares plus $2 cash for each Warrnambool share to 1.5 shares plus $2 in cash, which was worth $8.87 for each Warrnambool share.

Mr Richardson said the board's support for Saputo's latest offer reflected the increased cash and certainty compared with rival proposals.