29 May 2019

Westland Milk sale to Chinese company would net Pamu $11m

6:07 am on 29 May 2019

New Zealand's state-owned farming company Pamu stands to make more than $11 million if Westland Milk Products is sold to Chinese-owned dairy conglomerate Yili.

No caption

A West Coast dairy herd. Photo: Supplied / Westland Milk Products

Pamu, or Landcorp, is the country's largest farmer, and Westland Milk's biggest shareholder.

But Pamu's board has still not decided whether to vote for a sale or not, pending the arrival of further information.

If a sale went ahead, it would continue to sell its milk to the new owners under conditions of the sale agreement which was agreed in principle.

Westland Milk is under offer from Yili Dairy Group, at a rate of $3.41 per share.

That would make the whole company, Westland Milk, worth $588 million.

Westland Milk's board has endorsed the deal, but a decision has to be approved by the company's 342 farmer shareholders on 4 July.

Westland Milk's sale to Yili has been slammed by the New Zealand First Party as a sell-out of the country's wider interests.

But an analysis done for the ANZ said when Yili's money rippled through the community, even under a conservative multiplier, it would provide twice as much benefit for the West Coast as the Provincial Growth Fund ever did.

This would apply even after the company's debts were paid.

In response, the minister in charge of that fund, Shane Jones, questioned the value of that advice, saying banks like the ANZ always stood to make profits from large transactions.

In a statement, Pamu, which owns 10 farms supplying Westland Milk, said it had not yet decided which way to vote.

But it added its shareholding minister had not provided any direction - the matter was is up to the Pamu board to decide.

Besides Pamu, other notable shareholders include some corporate farms, the chair of the West Coast Regional Council, the Mawhera Incorporation, which is connected to Ngāi Tahu, and the Christian community, Gloriavale.

The proposed sale of Westland came after almost a year of analysis of its problems with debt and its low payments to the farmers who supply it.