Monday November 24, 2014

Saputo inks $378M deal to buy Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory

MONTREAL - Dairy and cheese giant Saputo (TSX:SAP) has entered into a C$378-million deal to buy Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Ltd. in Australia.

The Montreal-based company said late Monday that it is offering approximately AUD$7 (C$6.81) in cash per share for all outstanding shares in Warrnambool, one of the largest milk processors in Australia.

Saputo said it is financing the deal with a new three-year term bank loan, and that the enterprise value of the offer values the company at C$450 million, including a C$73 million debt as of June 30.

Saputo said the Australian company's board has unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the offer, which is expected to close in December. The deal is still subject to a number of conditions and regulatory approvals.

In September, Warrnambool was the subject of another takeover offer, which included a cash and shares deal valued at approximately AUD$6.30 (C$6.12) per share. Saputo did not name the other company.

Saputo has been eyeing a takeover of the Australian dairy for years, as it looked to expand its cheese empire in Oceanic countries.

Warrnambool supplies low-cost raw milk and is close to Asia, one of Saputo's main export markets. It produces a variety of milk products, including cheese, butter, butter blends, cream and dairy ingredients at two manufacturing sites in Australia. The company employs 420 people in south Australia and southwest Victoria.

According to Saputo, Warrnambool reported C$477 million of consolidated revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30.

Saputo is Canada's largest dairy processor and among the top 10 in the world. Its products are sold in more than 40 countries.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Saputo shares were up 35 cents, or 0.71 per cent, at $49.48 in Monday trading.


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