Sale of Australia’s largest dairy gets the green light

17-12-2015 | |
Sale of Australia s largest dairy gets the green light
Sale of Australia s largest dairy gets the green light

A green light has been given for the sale of Australia’s largest dairy company, Van Diemen’s Land (VDL), which sits in the north-west of Tasmania.

There has been a lot of controversy over this deal to a Chinese buyer but after a legal injunction blocking the sale was lifted, it can finally go ahead.

Australian company TasFoods had obtained the injunction to stop its New Zealand owners selling VDL to Chinese businessman Lu Xianfeng. TasFoods claimed the New Zealand owners breached a sales contract with it for the dairy company. However, following a landmark ruling in the Victorian Supreme Court last week Justice James Judd removed the injunction and the case will now go to trial.

Chinese buyer welcomes court’s decision

A statement from the Chinese buyer Mr Lu said: “We welcome the court’s decision. We are pleased it has been resolved so quickly, and now look forward to preparing for the completion of the sale.” The dairy company VDL has been operating in Tasmania since 1825 and is owned by New Zealand’s New Plymouth District Council (NPDC). New Plymouth District Council also released a statement, with Mayor Andrew Judd saying the council was pleased that the Supreme Court of Victoria had ruled in its favour. Major Judd said: “In accepting the rival offer from Moonlake Investments, which is $AU30 million (€19.7 million) higher than the offer from TasFoods, the council is fulfilling its obligation to make decisions that are in the best interests of the New Plymouth District community.”

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James Charteris-Hough, managing director of ABCA (part of AB Agri, the agricultural division of Associated British Foods), is based in China. He has a clear view on the developments in dairy, which he demonstrates in various presentations. Charteris-Hough and Roel Leferink from Dairy Digest had a Q+A session on the implications of China’s rapid development.

Australian government still has to approve deal

It is very ironic but the historic company which sits on Australian soil has never actually been Australian owned. The controversy over the sale started when the owners agreed a sale to TasFoods but after receiving a higher offer from Lu Xianfeng, the sale was cancelled. Mr Lu is the head of Australia’s biggest blind maker Kresta Holdings and initially tried to keep his identity secret as the foreign buyer behind the VDL deal. If the sale is to go ahead, it requires the blessing and approval of the Federal Government and will be assessed on national interest grounds by the Foreign Investment Review Board. This news comes just weeks after the Federal Government knocked back the sale of the Kidman cattle company to Chinese investors.

Chris Mccullough Freelance multi-media journalist