In what Tatura Milk Industries chair Barry Irvin described as ‘‘an important time for the Australian dairy industry’’, he has presented an offer to Warrnambool Cheese and Butter shareholders to merge that company with the Bega Cheese/Tatura Milk Industries business.By Bob Nicol
‘‘From our perspective the offer is the next logical step in the consolidation of the Australian dairy industry, recognises the value of WCB, and allows shareholders to participate in the exciting future of an Australian owned dairy business that has common histories, values and goals,’’ Mr Irvin said last week.
‘‘I have spoken often about the scale, product range, infrastructure, customer reach and integration opportunity the combined businesses of Bega Cheese, Tatura Milk and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter would have.
‘‘It has been great to see the reaction of Bega Cheese and Tatura Milk Industries suppliers at our most recent supplier meetings to the WCB offer.
‘‘The positive view our suppliers have taken on the bid has been heartening.’’
Mr Irvin said there was no question that suppliers recognised the importance of further industry consolidation and the benefits of an Australian owned dairy business with roots that go back more than 100 years in the many dairy communities in which it operates.
‘‘The goal of our offer to WCB shareholders to merge with Bega Cheese is all about creating more value in the supply chain and delivering that value to our shareholders and milk suppliers,’’ he said.
‘‘Of course everybody would be aware that this week Canadian dairy company Saputo has announced its intention to make an alternative offer to WCB shareholders.
‘‘Our current information indicates that the offer will have a number of conditions including Foreign Investment Review Board approval and a minimum acceptance of 50.1 per cent (Bega Cheese’s offer has no minimum acceptance condition).
‘‘I have been asked since the alternative offer from Saputo, what Bega Cheese will do. I wish to be clear, that we continue to believe that our offer is a very meritorious one.’’
Mr Irvin said it was Bega Cheese’s intention to continue with their bid, and the company would reflect on its position and strategy over the coming weeks.
‘‘The opportunity to create a larger iconic, Australian owned, listed dairy company should not be missed,’’ he said.
‘‘It would be a shame in years to come to look back and say that too much of Australia’s value-added dairy infrastructure is owned by international companies.
‘‘As I have said Bega Cheese will continue to argue the merits of our offer and the fact that it represents a great opportunity for not only the shareholders and suppliers of Bega Cheese/Tatura Milk and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, but for the industry as a whole.’’
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