Treasurer approves Canadian bid for Warrnambool Cheese

ABC Rural
By Anna Vidot

Warrnambool Cheese and ButterPhoto: A milk tanker leaves the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter factory at Allansford in south-west Victoria. (Tony Allan)

Audio: Warrnambool Cheese and Butter’s David Lord tells shareholders to support Saputo’s bid (ABC Rural)
Related Story: Timeline: the battle for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter
Related Story: Saputo still determined to take over Warrnambool
Related Story: Canadian company confident of Warrnambool takeover

The Treasurer Joe Hockey has approved a Canadian company’s bid to buy Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.

The WCB board had recommended its shareholders accept the Saputo bid of $8 a share, the highest offer in a bidding war for the Victorian dairy processor, which also saw offers from Bega Cheese and Murray Goulburn.

The Treasurer has approved the Saputo bid without conditions.

“The future ownership of WCB is ultimately a matter for the shareholders, but this decision provides certainty in relation to Saputo’s bid,” the Treasurer said in a statement announcing his decision.

“Australia is open for business and we welcome foreign investment when it is not contrary to the national interest.”

The WCB bid was one of two major foreign investment decisions on the Treasurer’s desk.

A decision on the other more contentious transaction, the proposed sale of GrainCorp to American agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, is due by December 17.

The board of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has already released a 70-page document recommending shareholders accept the offer.

Warrnambool managing director and chief executive David Lord says they’ll be able to start selling to Saputo in the next few days.

“As of when they receive their bidder’s statement – and I understand those bidder’s statements have been in the mail in the last week or so and shareholders should have them – they can sell into the Saputo offer now, and providing the other conditions are satisfied, then they’ll receive $8 a share that Saputo are offering.”