Saputo plans to take full control of Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter

Canadian dairy company Saputo Inc yesterday said that it would buy the 11.98 per cent it does not already own in Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB).

Saputo's wholly-owned subsidiary, Saputo Dairy Australia Pty Ltd, will make an off-market offer to acquire all the remaining shares in WCB for A$8.85 in cash, valuing the company at A$682 million ($515 million).

The offer price is less than the $9.40 a share Saputo paid three years ago when it outbid Bega Cheese and Murray Goulburn Co-Operative to take control of WCB.

Saputo holds 88.02 per cent of WCB, while Japan's Kirin Brewery holds 9.9 per cent and the remaining is free float.

Saputo said that its offer is conditional on receiving at least 90 per cent of WCB shares.

Victoria-based WCB is a 122-year old company, which operates two manufacturing sites in South West Victoria and South Australia producing a range of dairy products for domestic and export markets, including cheese, butter and butter blends, milk, cream and dairy ingredients.

Founded in 1954, Montreal-based Saputo is Canada's leading dairy company with operations also in the US, Germany, Wales and Argentina.

The company's business includes cheese, baked goods and milk production and has an annual turnover of over $10 billion.