November 24, 2013 / 11:53 PM / in 4 years

Saputo hikes offer for control of Australia's Warrnambool

SYDNEY, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Canada’s Saputo Inc said on Monday it would increase its offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co if it won control of Australia’s oldest dairy maker, seeking to end a costly three-way battle for the company.

Saputo, Canada’s largest dairy company, said it would pay shareholders A$9.20 per share in cash if it won more than 50 percent acceptances for its now unconditional offer closing on December 13.

That is above the A$9.00 Saputo has already offered and above rival bids from Warrnambool shareholders Murray Goulburn Co-operative Ltd and Bega Cheese Ltd. It values Warrnambool at A$515 million ($472 million).

The simplified offer removes conditions associated with dividends payable by Warrnambool.

Shares in Warrnambool have more than doubled since Bega launched an initial approach in September and last traded at A$9.05. ($1 = 1.0914 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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