ACCC push back MG takeover decision

By Country News

A decision on the Saputo acquisition of Murray Goulburn assets has been pushed back until Wednesday by Australia’s competition watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week announced it had postponed a decision in relation to the proposed sale of all of MG’s operating assets and operating liabilities to Saputo.

The Extraordinary General Meeting, where shareholders will vote on the sale, is currently expected to proceed as planned on Thursday.

The ACCC earlier this month commenced a consultation process around the transaction which ended two weeks ago.

Earlier this month, concerns were aired that Murray Goulburn risked becoming unviable if a $1.31billion asset sale to the Canadian company was not approved.

An explanatory memorandum had forecast increased milk supply losses if the company was not sold.

Saputo has submitted a divestment proposal to the ACCC, hoping to satisfy concerns around MG’s Koroit plant.

The watchdog had previously voiced concerns that acquiring the plant would see Saputo control two-thirds of milk supply in some regions, including the south-west of the state.

It had been set to announce its findings regarding the sale last Wednesday with the asset sale expecting to be completed on May 1, if approved.

UDV president Adam Jenkins last month acknowledged the concerns, stressing it wanted the farm gate milk price to remain competitive long term.

‘‘Murray Goulburn suppliers represent more than 20 per cent of the Australian dairy industry. Getting this deal right is extremely important to the whole industry,’’ Mr Jenkins said last month.

‘‘Dairy farmers need stability, certainty and clarity around any potential acquisition of Murray Goulburn.

‘‘Ultimately we want those processors operating in Victoria to show respect to our farmers, restore trust and be committed to building a better dairy industry for the long term,’’ he had said.

—Thomas Moir