WCB chief sells shares to Saputo

David Lord says he expects his fellow directors and executives to do the same.

David Lord, chief executive of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory (WCB), has sold his 10,000 Warrnambool shares to Saputo Inc and expects his fellow directors and executives to also sell their stock to the Canadian company, which has offered $9 per share in cash to acquire the Victorian dairy producer.

“I’ve accepted the Saputo offer and mailed it off,” Lord told DataRoom. “Directors have made a commitment to sell to Saputo.”

Lord says he does not know what percentage of Warrnambool Saputo now owns. He understands that under current regulations any shareholder with a stake of 1% or more must make a public disclosure of their holdings to the ASX.

Saputo has yet to make any such disclosure on its Warrnambool shareholding.

Directors and executives of Warrnambool may have between 1% and 2% of the company’s stock, estimates one investment banker close to the company.

Lord has not yet had any discussions with the three shareholders who collectively own 46% of Warrnambool and can potentially block any takeover by Saputo.

“There have been no indications from the major shareholders as to what their intention are,” says Lord.

Two of the major shareholders, Bega Cheese Ltd and Murray Goulburn Co-operative Ltd, have launched their own takeover bids for Warrnambool. Bega and Murray Goulburn each have about an 18% stake in Warrnambool. Kirin Holdings Inc, through its Australian unit Lion, has a 9.99% stake in Warrnambool.

At 1400 AEST, Bega’s shares were up 18 cents, or 3.9%, pushing up the value of its takeover offer to $9.275 a share. That is 27.5 cents higher than Saputo and Murray Goulburn’s takeover offers.

Murray Goulburn has offered $9 cash for Warrnambool shares but needs to receive clearance from the Australian Competition Tribunal, a process that may take up to six months.

Warrnambool’s shares at 1400 AEST had fallen 12 cents, or 1.3%, to $9.08.

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