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Cheesy deal has firms feasting
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Cheesy deal has firms feasting

The sale of Australia’s oldest dairy processor involved a host of firms.

Firms: Minter Ellison (Warrnambool Cheese and Butter); Maddocks (Australian legal advisers to Saputo Inc); Stikeman Elliott (Canadian legal advisers to Saputo); Addisons (Bega Cheese Limited); Herbert Smith Freehills (Murray Goulburn Limited)

Deal: Saputo takes over Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory

Value: Between $530 million and $540 million

Area: M&A

Key Players: The Minters team was led by partners Tim Watkin (pictured) and Alberto Colla, with support from special counsel Sudharshan Senathirajah and senior associate Keith Tan. Maddocks and the North American firm Stikeman Elliott acted for Saputo, which is based in Montreal. Addisons acted for its long-term client Bega Cheese. David Ferguson was the lead partner, with managing partner Laura Hartley assisting with work on gaining ACCC clearance for the Bega offer. Senior associate Li-Jean Chew was also involved from Addisons. Herbert Smith Freehills advised the farmers’ co-operative Murray Goulburn

Deal Significance: Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) attracted interest from Saputo, Murray Goulburn and Bega Cheese. Throughout the six-month-long process, WCB’s directors preferred Saputo’s offer, with Bega Cheese and Murray Goulburn, who had a combined stake in WCB of over 36 per cent, recently accepting Saputo’s offer. This deal had a host of regulatory concerns, with the ACCC, the Foreign Investment Review Board and Australian Competition Tribunal all running their eyes over aspects of the various bids.

“We are delighted to have assisted the WCB board in managing what started as a hostile bid from Bega that then developed into a vigorous auction for control, delivering shareholders an outstanding premium for their shares,” said Minters partner Tim Watkin.

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