Saputo to buy Australian dairy co-op Murray Goulburn

Reuters — Murray Goulburn Co-operative, Australia’s largest milk processor, on Friday said it agreed to a buyout from Canadian dairy company Saputo worth up to A$637.8 million (C$627.5 million).

Murray Goulburn (MG) said Saputo would pay between A$1.10-$1.15 per share, compared to its A$2.10 issue price when it listed in 2015.

A total buyout value of A$1.3 billion would include the company’s debts and liabilities.

MG, reeling from an ill-fated Asian expansion, said in August it was considering approaches from suitors who were interested in buying the co-operative as a whole or some of its assets.

Rival Bega Cheese on Thursday said it had pulled out of the race to buy MG, leaving the dairy processor to choose from a string of international investors, including Fonterra and Saputo.

“MG has reached a position where, as an independent company, its debt was simply too high given the significant milk loss,” chairman John Spark said in Friday’s statement.

Montreal-based Saputo, which in 2014 beat out MG for control of Australia’s oldest dairy firm, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, said in a statement the MG buyout will complement its existing Australian portfolio.

Saputo said it will fund the deal with a new bank loan and expects the deal to close in the first half of 2018.

Reporting for Reuters by Christina Martin in Bangalore.

CORRECTION from Reuters, Oct. 27, 2017: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the equity value of Saputo’s deal for MG as A$235 million.

 

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