Murray Goulburn lifts Saputo bid

Suitor increases takeover offer, while rival Bega's shares spike as it joins Takeovers Panel application to stymie Saputo's bid.

Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co has increased its takeover offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings (WCB), while Bega Cheese (BGA) has backed Murray Goulburn's application to the Takeovers Panel to block rival Saputo's bid.

At 1025 AEDT, Bega surged 4.73% to $4.87, after climbing as high as $4.94 in earlier trade, against a benchmark index lift of 0.4%, while WCB was flat at $9.25.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Murray Goulburn announced a revised proposal of $9.50 cash per share in an off-market takeover.

Murray Goulburn said its offer is superior to all others, and is simple and straightforward.

The suitor said it still wishes to explore the possibility of WCB paying special dividends, noting Saputo has removed the dividend component of its offer.

In a separate statement, Bega said it has entered an appearance in respect to the Takeovers Panel proceedings, with a view to ensuring its interests and its shareholders' interests are properly represented before the panel.

Murray Goulburn yesterday asked the Takeovers Panel to stop Saputo from acquiring WCB shares on market.

Bega said it has provided the usual commitments in relation to confidentiality.

Bega, Murray Goulburn and Saputo are vying for control of WCB, with the target recommending Saputo's offer.