Bega extends offer for Australia's Warrnambool

Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:46pm EST
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SYDNEY Nov 26 (Reuters) - Bega Cheese Ltd said on Tuesday it is extending its offer for Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co by two weeks as it struggles to remain in the takeover race.

Bega and rival bidder Murray Goulburn Co-operative Ltd are considering taking the battle for Warrnambool to the Takeover Panel in the wake of a revised bid by Saputo Inc.

Saputo declared its A$505 million ($463 million) bid for Warrnambool unconditional on Monday and said it would hike its offer if it won control of Australia's oldest dairy maker.

But Canada's largest dairy company is still a long way short of success, revealing on Tuesday it holds just 3.7 percent of Warrnambool.

Bega and Murray Goulburn hold around 18 percent each, with Kirin Holdings Co Ltd's Australian food and beverage business Lion holding around 10 percent.

Saputo's simplified offer removes conditions associated with dividends payable by Warrnambool, which is backing the offer.

Bega and Murray Goulburn argue the decision to drop A$1.31 per share in proposed dividends means that shareholders will not have access to A$0.56 in franking credits. On that basis, the value of the bid has fallen from A$9.56 to A$9.20 if 50 percent acceptance is achieved, they said.

Saputo said it has followed takeover guidelines.

Bega is extending its offer to Dec. 12, the day before Saputo's deadline.   Continued...