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Saputo poised to gain full control of Australia’s Warrnambool dairy

Canadian dairy giant raises its stake in the cheese and dairy producer to 98%.


MONTREAL — Canadian dairy giant Saputo Inc. is poised to gain full ownership of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co. after Lion Dairy and Drinks accepted a sweetened offer to sell its minority stake in the Australian cheese and dairy producer.

Lion, a subsidiary of Japanese beverage firm Kirin, said it formally accepted Saputo’s improved offer of A$9.05 per share cash ($9.17 at current exchange rates) for each of the remaining shares. Saputo took control of the company in 2014 after a hard-fought takeover battle.

Lion said it will make a small profit on the sale of its 10.2% stake acquired in 2013. The company sold its cheese assets to Warrnambool in 2015 as part of its focus on core dairy and juice categories.

“Today’s sale to Saputo is therefore a logical step and a positive outcome for Lion,” it said in a news release.

Lion said the sale of shares won’t affect contracts with Warrnambool, including its supply of parmesan cheese.

Saputo said the acquisition of Lion’s stake raises its ownership in Warrnambool to more than 98%.

Exceeding the 90% threshold allows the company to purchase any outstanding shares.

“We are very pleased with the successful outcome,” the company wrote in an e-mail.

Saputo said its new offer, described as final, is available until March 6 to all shareholders regardless if they already accepted the A$8.85 per share cash bid from Jan. 30.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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