October 24, 2013 / 9:49 PM / in 4 years

Saputo raises bid for Australian dairy company Warrnambool

SYDNEY, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Saputo Inc, Canada’s largest dairy producer, raised its bid for Australia’s Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Ltd (WCB) on Friday, valuing the company at A$449 million ($430 million) and trumping two earlier offers.

Australian dairy and farm assets are attracting increased international interest as companies ramp up their exposure to Asia’s growing appetite for milk, cheese and other food products.

Saputo raised its cash offer by 14 percent to A$8 per share from A$7 per share, topping the most recent A$7.50 per share offer from Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co Ltd, which owns about 17 percent of Warrnambool. Australia’s Bega Cheese Ltd kicked off the takeover battle with a A$5.78 per share approach a month ago.

WCB directors recommended the revised Saputo offer.

Shares in WCB closed at A$8.15, reflecting investor expectations of a higher bid, having jumped from A$4.51 before the initial Bega approach.

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