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Saputo raises $599 million

Saputo Inc has sold enough shares to raise $599 million, sparking renewed speculation that it will try to buy Dean Foods of Dallas, the largest dairy retailer in the U.S.

BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. and National Bank Financial Inc. together bought 10.1 million shares from Saputo for $39.60 each, or about $400-million. The shares were priced about five per cent below Saputo’s Wednesday closing price of $41.70.

At the same time, two companies controlled by Saputo family members, including founder Lino Saputo, bought an additional five million shares for $199-million.

Saputo will use the new money to repay debt incurred because of recent acquisitions, and for “general corporate purposes,” the company said in a news release, adding that the financing gives the company “flexibility to pursue its growth strategy.”

The Saputo family has bought more than 30 dairy companies, including in the U.S. , Argentina and Australia. It is one of Canada’s largest food-sector companies.

The Globe and Mail reports that “some analysts say Saputo is likely scouring the global industry for further acquisition opportunities. There was speculation earlier this year that it could be eyeing a takeover of Dallas-based Dean Foods Co., which sells one of every three jugs of milk Americans drink and recently said it is exploring strategic options.”

Source: The Whig

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