Saputo extends Warrnambool offer while Takeovers Panel ponders
Canada's Saputo has extended its $9-a-share cash takeover offer for Warrnambool Cheese & Butter as it awaits the Takeovers Panel's ruling on whether it has misled shareholders with its revised bid.
Saputo is locked in a $500 million-plus takeover battle for control of WCB with Australia's biggest dairy exporter Murray Goulburn and NSW-based Bega Cheese.
Saputo has been barred from processing acceptances for its offer after Murray Goulburn made a submission to the Takeovers Panel claiming the group had contravened the truth in takeover provisions. The claim centres around the withdrawal of two fully franked dividend payments to shareholders from WCB in Saputo's latest bid. Murray Goulburn says Saputo's offer was worth $9.56 for some shareholders with the tax benefits of franking and Saputo may be compelled to raise its bid to $9.56.
Saputo's revised bid, which was extended to December 20 on Friday, is unconditional at $9 a share in cash plus an additional 20¢ a share if it gets to 50.1 per cent of WCB.
Despite the ban on processing acceptances and paying shareholders, Saputo's relevant interest in WCB continues to rise. According to the latest filings, Saputo has jumped to 15.7 per cent of WCB.