Canadian-owned Saputo will increase its offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter to satisfy Australia’s Takeovers Panel.
The panel had been investigating the two firms’ takeover discussions between 15-26 November. Warrnambool shareholders were initially offered special dividends and associated franking credits as part of the Saputo bid, but the offer was revoked days later.
Saputo is competing with Murray Goulburn and Bega for ownership of Warrnambool. The Takeovers Panel’s investigation was triggered by an application by Murray Goulburn.
The Takeovers Panel today criticised the Saputo dividend offer and withdrawal but said it had accepted a proposal from Saputo and Warrnambool to avoid making a formal declaration of unacceptable circumstances.
Under the Saputo-Warrnambool undertakings, Saputo will improve its offer and allow any Warrnambool shareholders that had accepted the original offer to withdraw from the deal.
Saputo’s new offer expires 15 days after ASIC lets it offer the withdrawal rights. The firm is now offering between $9 per Warrnambool share and $9.60, with the latter price only offered if Saputo ends up with more than 90% of the company.
Meanwhile, Warrnambool promised to make “an announcement outlining the status of the three bids currently being made in relation to its shares”.
It entered a trading halt this morning in anticipation of the Takeovers Panel’s decision, and has yet to resume trading today.