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Bega Jumps as Fonterra Buys Stake in Cheese Bidder: Sydney Mover

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Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Bega Cheese Ltd., an under bidder in the three-way contest for an Australian peer, rose to a record in Sydney after New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group acquired a 6 percent stake.

Bega jumped 9.5 percent to A$4.83 at the close. Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, said it paid A$4.95 a share for a 6 percent stake in New South Wales state-based Bega after the market closed yesterday.

The purchase raised the value of Bega’s cash and share offer for Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. to A$7.80 at the close, 20 cents less than the current highest bid from Montreal-based Saputo Inc. Murray Goulburn Cooperative Co. is also bidding for Warrnambool.

“There has recently been a lot of consolidation activity in the Australian dairy industry,” Fonterra Chief Executive Officer Theo Spierings said today in a statement. “It is important that Fonterra participates, and we have confidence in Bega and the strategy it is pursuing.”

Bega’s board is meeting next week to discuss raising its offer for Warrnambool after its proposal was cleared yesterday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Chairman Barry Irvin said.

Fonterra’s acquisition of a stake “puts further strength in our share price and further strength in our bid,” Irvin said today by phone. “We have a bid that is very much in the front position.”

Bega has climbed 53 percent since it made a takeover bid on Sept. 12 for the maker of brands including Sungold milk.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Stringer in Melbourne at dstringer3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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