A New Zealand entrepreneur, the main shareholder in Australian food ingredients firm Burns Philp, announced a takeover bid on Friday for dairy products company New Zealand Dairy Foods.
Through his private vehicle, the Rank Group, Graeme Hart made an offer of NZ$238 million (€118.8million) for the dairy group, agreeing to buy processing giant Fonterra Cooperative Group's controlling 50 per cent stake at NZ$1.70 a share.
"We are significant investors in the food sector... both domestically and globally, and what you see with our purchase of New Zealand Dairy Foods is just a continuing expansion of those interests," Hart told Reuters. Although he declined to detail how the acquisition would be financed.
Fonterra, formed from the merger of New Zealand's two largest dairy processors and required by legislation to sell its 70 million shares in NZ Dairy Foods, said the Rank offer was good for consumers and provided certainty for NZ Dairy Foods shareholders and employees.
"The NZ$1.70 a share offer is the best available following an exhaustive sales process that canvassed all potential international buyers," Fonterra chief financial officer Graham Stuart said in a statement.
New Zealand's competition regulator the Commerce Commission last month rejected an application by Australia's National Foods to acquire NZ Dairy Foods. NZ Dairy Foods has about 40 per cent of the New Zealand dairy market and generates revenues of nearly NZ$500 million a year. Its brands include Anchor, Fernleaf, Chesdale, Fresh 'n' Fruity, Royal Tasman and Ornelle.