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Is Bega Cheese Limited gearing up to buy Devondale Murray Goulburn?

Bega Cheese Limited (ASX: BGA) CEO Paul van Heerwaarden signaled the company is looking at more potential acquisitions at its AGM on Tuesday.

Bega this year acquired Mondelez’s Australian grocery business, which includes iconic Vegemite.

The acquisition was funded in part by Bega’s sale of two facilities in Victoria, including an infant formula finishing plant, to Mead Johnson for $200 million.

Mr van Heerwaarden, in his first AGM as CEO, told shareholders that Bega will continue to pursue acquisitions that deliver value.

“Bega Cheese has always maintained a strong balance sheet believing that we should be in a position to respond to business opportunities if and when they present themselves,” Mr van Heerwaarden said.

“These opportunities will inevitably include both organic growth and acquisitions.

“Increasingly we consider opportunities that extend beyond dairy but are consistent with our competencies in the manufacturing of high quality dairy foods and nutritional product,” he said.

Over the last few months rumours concerning takeover bids aimed at dairy company Devondale Murray Goulburn, part of the MG Unit Trust (ASX: MGC), have been consistently surfacing.

Bega was touted as a potential contender for the acquisition along with Canadian dairy Saputo, the A2 Milk Company Ltd (ASX: A2M), New Zealand dairy Fonterra, a Chinese firm and others.

MG confirmed that it has received a number of confidential, non-binding indicative proposals.

“These proposals have ranged from the sale of certain assets to whole of company transactions,” the company stated.

“No offer has been received for the units in MG Unit Trust for $1.20 per unit, as speculated in the media.”

The Bega share price closed on Tuesday at $7.58, down 0.92% on the previous day’s trade.

But the Bega share price has come a long way since Mr van Heerwaarden was appointed CEO in mid-November last year when it was trading at around $4.50, representing an increase of about 70%.

However, Bega’s plans for growth and expansion nor Mr van Heerwaarden’s performance were enough to stop a significant selloff of Bega stock on Tuesday.

Finance services company Perpetual Limited (ASX: PPT) offloaded about 675,000 Bega shares to bring their interest in Bega to 11.88%, down from 12.91%.

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Motley Fool contributor Steve Holland has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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