Australian regulator puts Saputo bid for Warrnambool on hold

Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:37am EST
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SYDNEY Nov 29 (Reuters) - Saputo Inc's bid for Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co was dealt a blow on Friday after a regulator granted a rival suitor's request for an interim order preventing the Canadian dairy firm from processing acceptances received in the deal.

Saputo declared its A$9 bid, which is backed by the Warrnambool board, unconditional on Monday and said it would hike its offer if it won control.

But rival bidder Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co Ltd later appealed to Australia's Takeovers Panel to block Saputo's revised bid.

Murray Goulburn and Bega Cheese Ltd, which is also vying to acquire Warrnambool in a three way takeover battle, argue the decision under Saputo's revised offer to drop A$1.31 per share in proposed dividends means shareholders will not have access to A$0.56 in franking credits.

The panel said its ruling could extend for two months.

Saputo said on Friday it had increased its holding in Warrnambool to 9.6 percent.