Synlait eyes troubled Waimate plant

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ALAN WOOD AND EMMA BAILEY.Potential buyers have emerged for the failed Russian-owned Waimate dairy processor in receivership, with Chinese majority-owned Synlait Milk the frontrunner.Christchurch merchant bank Ocean Partners has also indicated an interest.
The receivers say they are already in «advanced discussions» with interested parties.
Farmer suppliers to NZ Dairies, placed in receivership on Thursday, say they are owed up to $30 million in deferred payments for their milk.
Plans to sell the Waimate dairy factory near Studholme over the last couple of years have failed, leading to the appointment of receivers Colin Gower, Stephen Tubbs and Brian Mayo Smith of BDO on Thursday.
Gower was in Waimate yesterday to start the receivership process. A meeting was held with suppliers and receivers at 1pm at the Studholme Hotel.
Fairfax understands farmers at the meeting were told negotiations were under way to sell the factory to Synlait Milk, 51 per cent Chinese-owned by China’s Bright Dairy.
Synlait Milk has a dairy factory near Dunsandel and Bright Dairy, a huge food business, bought in in late 2010 for $82 million.
Asked about Synlait Milk’s interest in the Studholme factory assets chairman Graeme Milne said: «Obviously we’re interested in developments in the dairy industry … obviously there’s an interest.»
He also said Synlait Milk had watched the sales process that had surrounded the Russian operation prior to receivership.
«We’ve been following developments there,» he said, adding he did not want to comment further.
One farmer supplier, who did not want to be named, said that milk he had supplied the NZ Dairies factory for the past five years was picked up as usual yesterday morning and he regarded that as a positive sign.
The farmers were usually paid on the 20th of each month with a payment due on Sunday.
It is understood farmers were yesterday told they will have to wait a month for a payout.
The new owner of the milk powder processing factory would likely have to inject capital to enable added-value products to be produced.
BDO’s Gower said VTB Capital, a Russian-controlled investment bank operating in Britain, is a secured creditor of New Zealand Dairies, and had appointed BDO as receivers.
The receivership included New Zealand Dairies and related companies Studholme Corporation and Dairy Exports New Zealand.
Gower, in a statement, said the receivers intended to market the companies for sale, with «advanced discussions» in place with a number of parties interested in buying the business.
The receivers’ objective was to preserve the jobs and operations in the short term.
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Gower confirmed the farmer suppliers had some of their payments for milk withheld until the final payment value was established towards the end of the season.
One farmer supplier said he was probably owed several million and estimated that the 20-30 farmer supplier groups were owed north of $20m. Farmers were owed about $1.50 out of the about $6.30 total payment per kilogram of milksolids for the season.
Another farmer estimated $30m was owed to the supplier group.
Tim Howe, partner with boutique merchant bank Ocean Partners, said prior to the receivership there had been a number of interested buyers in the dairy factory at Studholme, near Waimate, including Chinese buyers.
Howe said Ocean Partners would be interested in looking at the assets now in the receivers’ hands.
– © Fairfax NZ News

Mirá También

Así lo expresó Domingo Possetto, secretario de la seccional Rafaela, quien además, afirmó que a los productores «habitualmente los ignoran los gobiernos». Además, reconoció la labor de los empresarios de las firmas locales y aseguró que están «esperanzados» con la negociación entre SanCor y Adecoagro.

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