20 Oct 2013

Chinese investor bids to take over Synlait

6:17 am on 20 October 2013

A Chinese company has launched a takeover bid for the Canterbury dairy farming company, Synlait Farms Limited.

The bid by Shanghai Pengxin Group is in partnership with two of the founders of Synlait, Juliet Maclean and John Penno.

Last year, Shanghai Pengxin took over the chain of Crafar farms in the North Island, but first had to overcome legal challenges from farming and Maori interests.

Synlait chair Barry Brook says there was little interest from New Zealand investors in its farms, and the 70 staff employed by Synlait Farms will keep their jobs.

Federated Farmers says it is closely watching the bid.

The company supplies milk from 13 farms milking 13,000 cows on land south-west of Christchurch.

The takeover offer is just under $86 million, much less than the $200 million it spent on 16 Crafar farms in the North Island.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills says it wants to be sure there are real economic benefits to New Zealand farming and the country.

The Synlait Farms takeover offer is conditional on 90% acceptance by shareholders and approval from the Overseas Investment Office.