Saputo Inc. (SAP.TO), Canada’s biggest milk processor, agreed to buy the U.K.’s Dairy Crest Group Plc for 975 million pounds (US$1.3 billion), gaining a foothold in Europe just months after snapping up Australia’s biggest dairy processor.

Saputo will pay 620 pence a share in cash for the maker of Cathedral City cheese, 12 per cent more than Thursday’s close in London trading.

The deal announcement comes after a five-day surge in Dairy Crest’s stock that lifted the price by 17 percent on heavy volume. Dairy Crest, which closed on Feb. 14 at 474.20 pence a share, finished trading Thursday at 555 pence. Almost 2.4 million shares traded, compared to the three-month average volume of 358,000 shares. The stock rose as much as 13 percent to 627.50 pence on Friday.

The Dairy Crest acquisition comes after the Canadian company pushed into Asia, buying Australia’s Murray Goulburn for about US$1 billion last year and taking full ownership of Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. a year earlier as it bet on the region’s increased dairy consumption to fuel growth.

Both Montreal-based Saputo and Esher, England-based Dairy Crest have built strong positions in their home countries’ cheese sectors, and Saputo said it aims to speed up Dairy Crest’s growth and business development. Dairy Crest directors backed the transaction. The Canadian company makes Woolwich goat cheese and Milk2Go flavored drinks.