Murray Goulburn to lobby competition regulators over WCB approval timelines

Gary Helou, chief executive of Victorian dairy co-operative, Murray Goulburn said that the business intends to lobby government and regulators over competition issues relating to the sale of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.

Helou believes that the competitive landscape was not level in relation to time alignments, and added that analysts and commentators are now considering the formation of an alignment in the Australian dairy and competition framework to encourage a even playing field, The Weekly Times Now reports.

Murray Goulburn first entered a bid to take over WCB back in 2010, but pulled out before the final ruling by the competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Murray Goulburn’s takeover offer was heard on November 29 last year with an estimated ruling expected at the end of February, however Saputo received Foreign Investment Review Board approval back on November 12.

The cooperative has since sold its stake in WCB to Saputo, pushing the Canadian dairy processor’s share in the company up to 77 percent.

"We will certainly be talking to the regulator and the regulators to make sure the time lines align and not disadvantage any bidder," Helou said.

"We believe strongly in a level playing field and that is all we are asking for.

"We will be seeking to constructively engage with our government and the regulators to relook at the regulation and hopefully draft a better time line alignment."

Saputo now holds a majority share in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter following the acquisition of MG’s shares which has raised WCB’s share price up to $9.40 per share.

Should Saputo’s stake in Warrnambool hit over 90 percent, then the share price could potentially reach $9.60 per share, however the likelihood of this occurring is relatively slim as Lion, a 10 percent shareholder recently released a statement confirming that it has “no current intention to accept Saputo’s takeover offer.”   



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