Fonterra seeks out Dairy Farmers

Posted by James Ferre on 13th May 2008

Fonterra, a global supplier of dairy ingredients, is keen to takeover Australian dairy business, Dairy Farmers. The news follows several other companies indicating their interest in Dairy Farmers, who announced earlier this year that they are ‘on the market’.

The Dairy Farmers Board will today advise its shareholders that the next party interested in acquiring or merging with the business has commenced a regulatory approval process.

Fonterra has requested that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) indicate whether it has any concerns that would need to be overcome prior to its bid to acquire Dairy Farmers being formally assessed by the Co-operative’s Board.

The commencement of Fonterra’s regulatory approval process follows a similar approach by Kirin-owned National Foods last month.

Dairy Farmers Chief Executive Rob Gordon said that other interested parties may initiate similar regulatory clearance processes in coming weeks.

“As stated previously, Dairy Farmers Board has requested interested bidders seek the necessary regulatory clearances, including ACCC reviews, prior to it formally assessing proposals,” Mr Gordon said. “Any bidder that does not have existing dairy operations in Australia would not, however, be expected to seek an ACCC review at this point. Such parties may be required to seek Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval during coming months.”

“Dairy Farmers’ Board will meticulously assess each of the available options before it puts a recommendation to its dairy farmer shareholders.” Mr Gordon added.

Fonterra, a NZ co-operative, already has extensive operations in Australia and considers Australia to be a part of their ‘home market’. They currently control about a third of the world’s dairy exports and have leading brands in Australia which include Bega, Western Star and Perfect Italiano.