German company makes bid for New Zealand apple group

11/14/2011 08:01:00 AM
Bruce Blythe

$imgObj.altTextBayWa AG, a Munich-based agricultural, construction and energy conglomerate, will spend about $107 million for a controlling stake in New Zealand fruit marketer Turners & Growers Ltd.

London-based holding company Guinness Peat Group Plc said it entered a “lock-up agreement” to sell its 74.25 million Turners & Growers shares, representing a 63.5% stake, to BayWa, Guinness Peat said in a Nov. 10 statement on its website.

Based on BayWa’s proposed offer of 1.85 New Zealand dollars per share, or about $1.44, the transaction would be valued at about $106.7 million, though the deal is still subject to “certain conditions,” including approval by Turners & Growers shareholders.

Arithony Elsen, Guinness Peat’s chief investment officer, said his company “supports BayWa’s proposed offer and believes that it is attractive,” according to the statement.

“BayWa is a highly reputable company with a strong history in trading agricultural products,” Elsen said. “I expect that BayWa’s expertise will assist Turners & Growers continue its successful expansion into international markets.”

A leading retail supplier of German premium fresh fruit, BayWa posted total revenue of more than $10 billion in the company’s fiscal 2010.

Auckland-based Turners & Growers has been locked in a court battle with rival New Zealand marketer Zespri over the country’s kiwifruit shipments.

In September, Turners & Growers filed an appeal against a New Zealand High Court ruling that upheld the kiwifruit export monopoly held by Zespri.

While allowing that Zespri’s “loyalty” contracts with growers are designed to preserve its monopoly power after deregulation, the High Court said in August that Turners & Growers could not show that Zespri had the purpose of substantially lessening competition in the market and could not prove that the government would deregulate the industry

Turners & Growers’ chairman Rob Campbell said in September the company’s appeal reflects the continuing resolve “to get the right to export its own kiwifruit varieties from New Zealand and to service the growers who wish us to act for them as we do for growers of other produce.



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