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Bega to Take Time Studying Any Improved Warrnambool Bid

Bega Cheese Ltd., the No. 1 shareholder in Australia’s Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co., will study in coming weeks any improved offer for the dairy producer that’s the subject of rival bids.

“That’s the period of time we will take to think about what we will do with our offer,” Bega Cheese Executive Chairman Barry Irvin said today in a phone interview. Warrnambool, which has a market value of A$454 million ($439 million), supplies milk to make Philadelphia cream cheese.

Warrnambool, the maker of brands including Sungold and Warrnambool cheddar, is trading at a record after receiving offers from Bega Cheese, Murray Goulburn Cooperative Co., Australia’s biggest milk processor, and Canada’s Saputo Inc. Buying Victoria state-based Warrnambool would allow the bidders to add production to meet rising demand in Asia.

The competition for Warrnambool won’t rush Bega into improving its offer of 1.2 shares and A$2 cash for each Warrnambool share, Irvin said. “We don’t feel pressured to have to make one today or tomorrow.”

Warrnambool rose 2.8 percent to A$8.11 a share in Sydney trading Monday. That’s 8 percent more than the A$7.50 a share offer Murray Goulburn made last week, and more than Saputo’s A$7 a share and Bega’s A$6.90 a share.

Bega Cheese, a New South Wales state-based producer, holds 18 percent of Warrnambool and Murray Goulburn holds 17 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Warrnambool has rejected Bega’s bid as too low and unanimously recommended Saputo’s offer. Directors are scheduled to meet to consider the bid by Murray Goulburn, the company said last week.

Bega Cheese, which made its cash and share offer last month, said it expects to win approval for a possible takeover from the anti-trust regulator within the next two weeks.

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