Saputo buys out remaining 12% of Australia’s Warrnambool dairy

Saputo Inc. is moving to buy out the minority shareholders of an Australian cheese and dairy producer that it acquired in 2014 after a hard-fought takeover battle.

The Montreal-based company’s Australian subsidiary is offering A$8.85 per share cash (C$8.77 at current exchange rates) for each of the remaining shares of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co.

As of the announcement Monday, Saputo (TSX:SAP) owned 88.02 of Warrnambool’s shares. Its offer is 24.8 per cent above the Australian company’s closing stock price of A$7.09 on Friday.

However, Saputo’s offer is below what it paid in 2014 when it offered between A$9.40 per WCB share and up to A$9.60 per share if at least 90 per cent of Warrnambool’s shares were tendered.

The company said Monday that the only condition with the new offer is that enough shares are tendered to its offer to raise Saputo’s ownership to 90 per cent of the total.

Warrnambool issued a separate release saying that a committee of directors who are independent of Saputo has unanimously support the offer, unless a superior bid emerges. It also said a rival bid is unlikely to emerge.