February 26, 2012
NEW Zealand’s largest enterprise, Fonterra Co-operative Group, is rapidly advancing plans for a $NZ500 million to $NZ700 million ($390 million to $546 million) listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. The Kiwi dairy giant, which is the world’s largest dairy exporter, has called for proposals from investment banks to lead the listing of the $NZ20-billion-a-year dairy company, expected in the first half of this year, The Australian Financial Review reports. With revenue of $4 billion, Fonterra’s Australia-New Zealand business unit is the largest consumer foods business in Australasia and is considered a cornerstone of the group’s operations and a key part of its growth plans. In Australia, Fonterra has 2000 employees, collects 21 per cent of Australia’s milk and operates 10 manufacturing sites. Its brands include Mainland, Bega, Western Star, Perfect Italiano and Ski. Fonterra is a huge co-operative, comprising almost 11,000 New Zealand dairy farmers, with any sharemarket float likely to be a complicated and potentially controversial process as dairy farmers seek to maintain maximum control over the enterprise’s operations. Changes to the group’s constitution approved by farmers last year have opened the door to the wider trading of its stock. Farmers in need of liquidity will be able to sell their Fonterra shares to what will be a unit trust or tracking stock-type structure which will be open to investment by private investors. Until now, the only way to get Fonterra shares was to buy a farm.