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Saputo president and CEO Lino Saputo Jr., right, and his father Lino chat prior to the the company's annual meeting in Laval, Que., in 2012.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Montreal-based Saputo Inc. (TSX:SAP) has raised its offer for an Australian dairy company that is the focus of a heated takeover battle involving at least two other contenders.

Saputo's new offer is $9 per share in Australian currency, valuing Warrnambool Cheese and Butter at about A$499 million, or about C$487 million.

Saputo's previous offer was A$8 per share but rival Murray Goulburn Co-operative announced earlier this week that it would offer A$9 per share for Warrnambool.

A combination of Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool would have 41 per cent of the Australian market while a deal with Saputo would give the Canadian company about 10 per cent.

Saputo says its offer will be unconditional and superior to all other proposals, including the one from Murray Goulburn or another from Bega Cheese Ltd., which has offered about A$8.675.

Saputo's says Murray Goulburn's offer is "highly conditional" because it is subject to receiving approval from Australian authorities.

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