Bega Cheese bows out

BEGA Cheese started the bidding war for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, but now may be the first one to pull out. 

Bega Cheese issued a statement to the ASX on Wednesday saying it would not extend its offer for the milk processor past 7pm Friday.

“Bega Cheese is pleased its takeover offer for WCB has facilitated the competitive takeover process and created significant value for WCB shareholders,” the statement read.

“Once its offer is closed, Bega Cheese will consider its options regarding its strategic shareholding in WCB.

“Bega Cheese remains committed to Western Victoria and dairy farmers in the region.”

The statement has sparked speculation Bega Cheese may sell its WCB holding, just over 18 per cent, to either one of its bidding rivals, Canada’s Saputo or Victorian dairy processor Murray Goulburn.

With the value of WCB shares rising over $6 each since Bega made its takeover bid in September selling its stake would leave the company with substantial funds.

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