Murray Goulburn turns to John Wylie for advice

The dairy co-operative is seeking advice from Lazard’s Australian head to advise it on the Warrnambool battle.

Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co chief executive Garry Helou is using perhaps Australia’s most formidable investment banker, John Wylie, to advise it on whether it should back Saputo Inc or Bega Cheese Ltd in the fight to buy Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Ltd.

Wylie is the Melbourne-based chief executive of Lazard Australia. He is best known for advising Victoria on its $30 billion power industry sale and counts BHP Billiton Ltd and Telstra Corp among his clients.

Wylie’s hiring signals just how serious Helou is on not being pushed around by Saputo or Bega, as he debates with his executive team, board and Wylie the merits of supporting either party. Murray Goulburn has an 18 per cent stake in Warrnambool and Wylie has had a relationship with Helou and Murray Goulburn for several years.

There are three boutiques or specialist M&A advisory firms that have been hired by three of the major players in the Warrnambool battle.

Bega is being advised by David Williams, founder of Melbourne-based Kidder Williams. Saputo is being advised by Rothschild, whose bankers on the deal are also largely based in Melbourne. Rabobank’s bankers are outside Australia working for Saputo.  

Bega has offered 1.2 of its shares plus $2 cash for Warrnambool’s stock. At the close of trading today its offer was worth $6.582 a share compared with Saputo’s $7 cash bid.

Warrnambool is being advised by CIMB.