Primary Industries

Sale of Westland Milk Products approved

Westland Milk Products shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of selling their company to the Chinese buyer Yili.

The company said 93.79 percent of people who cast a vote supported the sale and 6.21 percent opposed it. The vote required 75 percent approval.

The offer price, of $3.41 per share, values the company at $588 million.

Westland Milk Products chairman Pete Morrison welcomed the decision.

"When the board initiated the strategic review process, we did so with the full understanding that all Westland farming families needed to have a competitive milk payout," Morrison said.

"This proposed transaction will secure a competitive milk payout for at least 10 seasons for all of our existing shareholders.

"It also ensures that all of our existing shareholders' milk will be picked up for 10 years."

Morrison said the$3.41 per share offer was significantly higher than the independent adviser's valuation range of $0.88 to $1.38 per share.

The vote came after a year of debate about the future of the company, which has been wracked with debt, and paid farmers far less for their milk than other companies elsewhere in New Zealand.

The low payout was also affecting the ability of farmers to sell their farms, because banks were reluctant to lend.

Farmers argued with protesters outside today's crucial meeting where the decision whether or not to sell was debated, and the sale proposal had earlier been criticised politicians.

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