Friday, 02 August 2019 09:41

Westland Milk officially changes hands

Written by  Sudesh Kissun 
Former Westland Milk chairman Pete Morrison (right) and Yili Group chief executive Jianqiu Zhang (third from right) at the ceremony in Auckland last night to mark the sale of the former co-op to Yili. Former Westland Milk chairman Pete Morrison (right) and Yili Group chief executive Jianqiu Zhang (third from right) at the ceremony in Auckland last night to mark the sale of the former co-op to Yili.

West Coast dairy company Westland Milk is now officially owned by Chinese dairy giant Yili.

At a handover ceremony in Auckland last night, Yili took over the reins of the former co-op.

Westland’s board resigned yesterday ahead of the handover. Board members including outgoing chairman Pete Morrison attended the event. However, chief executive Toni Brendish was missing.

Yili Group chief executive Jianqiu Zhang, who also attended the event, says Westland’s acquisition is a significant breakthrough in Yili’s global expansion.

Zhang said the sale of Westland to Yili follows Yili Chairman Pan Gang’s concept of constructing a ‘healthy global ecosystem’ in the construction of ‘Yili’s Dairy Silk Road’. 

“In this regard, the acquisition can be seen as a vast dairy bridge crossing the Pacific Ocean, helping the world to share health,’’ Zhang said. 

Yili’s acquisition of Westland was also announced to the Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday morning.

Yili paid $3.41/share for the beleaguered company. Former farmer shareholders were paid yesterday.

Zhang said New Zealand’s strong dairying tradition, high-quality raw milk and well-regulated industry alongside Yili’s access to global resources and markets would strengthen the ties between Asia and the Oceania region. 

“We intend to use our global assets of innovation, excellence and quality to create a Dairy Silk Road, linking our two regions on a trade journey that will benefit us all,’’ Zhang said. 

“In 2013, we made our first investment in New Zealand in the Oceania Dairy production facility where we have invested $NZ660million. With Westland now among the Yili group of companies, Yili can provide the world with even more of the incredibly pure product loved and trusted by consumers around the globe. 

“At Westland, we intend to build on the proud heritage of an innovative dairy that, like Yili, has recognised that unique, value-added products are critical to success in today’s export market. We will continue to stick to this principle of ‘Mutual Benefit and Win-win Co-operation’ with the incorporation of Westland to provide the world with more diversified and better-quality products.’’ 

Zhang said Yili had committed to paying competitive farm gate prices at Oceania and now Westland to ensure a continual supply to meet rising global demand for its products. 

“Our global vision is to build healthy lives by being the world’s most trusted health-food provider,’’ Zhang said.

 “But we also want to contribute to healthy environments for people to live in as well as Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., Ltd contribute to communities that we are connected to by a strong sense of our social responsibility as corporate citizens.’’ 

Zhang said Yili had been humbled by the farmer shareholders’ strong show of faith in accepting the company’s offer. 

“We take this show of faith very seriously and as the new custodians of one of New Zealand’s most trusted brands, we will continue to build on their proud heritage.

“We are confident our investment here will bring new life to Westland and create better opportunities not only for our employees, the dairy farmers of New Zealand and the Westland community, but for the global dairy industry and New Zealand as well.’’

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