Murray Goulburn class action could cost more than $200 million

While the source said no precise figure had been set as to what the damages payout would be, he expected it to be “well in excess of $100 million but probably in excess of $200 million”.

Murray Goulburn was planning to withhold $194 million to $222 million of the $1.31 billion achieved from the Saputo sale to pay for costs associated with the class action and other wind-up expenses.

That left an estimated 75c cents a share/unit to be paid out to shareholders and unit holders soon after completion of the deal.

The co-operative told shareholders at its annual general meeting it would return any unused funds to investors after the class action was resolved.

However, a payout of more than $200 million would put in some doubt investors receiving more than 75c.

Dairy farmers have told The Weekly Times they wanted at least $1 for their shares, threatening to vote against the Saputo sale if they did not receive it.

The class action source said litigants had a strong case for a hefty payout.

Litigants allege information in MG’s product disclosure statement compiled for the listing of units on the Australian Securities Exchange was “deceptive or misleading.”

Murray Goulburn had consistently said it did not consider it had any issues with its continuous disclosure process or the statements made in its PDS. In its recent defence filed in the Federal Court, MG rejected dozens of accusations by class action litigants.

The class action source said a trial date had not been set yet.

“We are going through the legal process of discovery,” he said. “We have got a lot of documents, but there are many more to come.

The recent buyer of a 5 per cent stake in Murray Goulburn said he was expecting a return of $1 to $1.05 a unit on his investment.

Philippines-born Robert Petersen bought more than 7.9 million units in Murray Goulburn since the announcement of the sale to Canadian dairy giant Saputo Inc. on October 27 last year.

Mr Petersen spent $8.37 million buying units in his name and that of a company he owned called Ayersland at an average of 81.3 cents a unit.

He said he looked at “merger and acquisition opportunities”.

“I am a risk taker,” he said..


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