The Australian Government Takeovers Panel has suspended Canadian-owned Saputo from buying shares in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter on the ASX as the latter considers rival buyout offers.
Murray Goulburn, which is in a three-way fight for Warrnambool with Saputo and Bega, this week asked the Takeovers Panel to stop Saputo from buying more WCB shares.
Saputo yesterday upped its stake from 4.799% to 9.648%.
Saputo is offering to buy Warrnambool for up to $9.20 a share. Murray Goulburn is offering $9.50 a share, while Bega is offering $2 cash plus 1.5 Bega shares.
Warrnambool directors reportedly favour Saputo’s bid because the Canadian company doesn’t have an Australian operation so the staff and management will be retained.
Today’s Takeovers Panel decision is an interim order, which means that the panel isn’t necessarily siding with Saputo or Murray Goulburn, but seeks to maintain the status quo while it decides.
The suspension will remain in place for two months or until the Takeovers Panel decides.
WCB shares closed down 0.75% today at $9.25.