24 Dec 2010

Chinese firm bids for control of PGG Wrightson

4:23 pm on 24 December 2010

A Chinese agricultural firm has made a bid for control of rural servicing company PGG Wrightson.

Agria, which already has a 19% shareholding in the listed rural services firm, is offering 60c a share to take its stake in PGG Wrightson to just over 50% - a 25% premium on Thursday's closing price.

A major shareholder, Pyne Gould Corporation, says it will sell its 18.3% stake.

Last year, PGG Wrightson raised nearly $250 million to reduce debt, but its recovery has been blighted by tough trading conditions, which culminated in a profit warning last week.

A director at Hamilton Hinden Green, Grant Williamson, says Agria clearly sees this as a good time to lift its holding. "The Asians recognise that their demand for food is only going to increase over time," Mr Williamson says, "and New Zealand is obviously a good place to invest. We're very efficient producers of commodities.

PGG Wrightson's shares have risen 6c to 54c.

Meanwhile, PGG Wrightson director George Gould is the new managing director of the company, replacing Tim Miles. He starts in February.