UPDATE 2-Canadian dairy producer Saputo eyes Brazil for acquisitions

Thu Jun 2, 2016 3:59pm EDT
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(Recasts with focus on M&A, CEO interview, analyst comment)

By Rod Nickel

June 2 (Reuters) - Saputo Inc, one of Canada's largest dairy producers, has an eye on Brazil for possible acquisitions, and could make deals worth as much as C$3.5 billion ($2.67 billion), its chief executive said on Thursday.

The struggling global dairy industry is fragmented, potentially yielding opportunities, CEO Lino Saputo Jr. said.

The company would like to buy cheese-making plants in Brazil, instead of continuing to move cheese into the market from Argentina, he said.

"You have hundreds and hundreds of dairy players" in Brazil, Saputo said in an interview. "If we found an interesting platform on the cheese side in Brazil that would allow us to be a consolidator, that's essentially what we're looking for."

He declined to say if Saputo was in serious negotiations with any company.

Brazil is one of the world's biggest milk producers and has a large number of domestic consumers.

After Brazil, Saputo is also interested in deals in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, he said.   Continued...