SAPUTO will take over Murray Goulburn’s assets and operating liabilities, after more than 98 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of the deal.
The sale is expected to be completed by May 1, subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
The $1.3 billion sale had been recommended to shareholders by the directors of the co-operative, which will retain about $200 million for continuing legal fees.
In his speech, Murray Goulburn chief executive Ari Mervis described Saputo as a “credible and trusted processor”.
He also confirmed higher payments for milk, with $6 per kilogram of milk solid expected for the 2018 financial year if the asset sale is completed.
“This includes a step-up in financial year 2018 farm gate milk price of $0.40 per kilogram for qualifying milk solids supplied from November 1, 2017 and, on completion of the asset sale, for qualifying milk solids supplied from July 1, 2017, to October 31, 2017,” he said.
“Given the loyalty shown by our suppliers during the challenging times over the past two years, a second component was added — a loyalty payment of $0.40 per kilogram for all qualifying suppliers for milk supplied in FY18.
This is expected to be paid on August 15, based on the current timetable for completion.
Once the litigation is completed, chairman John Spark said Murray Goulburn would be wound up and liquidated, with any proceeds distributed equally to shareholders and unit holders.
The extraordinary meeting on Thursday followed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision not to oppose the sale.
Saputo will divest from Murray Goulburn’s Koroit plant in south-west Victoria, as it owns the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter plant nearby, with a new owner to be approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.