New Zealand dairy group Fonterra Co-operative has reiterated its ambition to make further acquisitions in Australia, which generates about 10% of its income, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Fonterra reported that the net gains from the sale of NatFoods and its Wrightson business in NZ were $NZ191m (US$129m).

Coincidentally, this was the same figure as its net surplus after distributing $NZ5.3bn in payouts to its farmers, the paper said

Chief executive Andrew Ferrier said the NatFoods profit helped boost Fonterra’s borrowing capacity, which was substantial, as gearing was very low.

Ferrier said lack of capacity had not stopped Fonterra bidding more for NatFoods, a fight which was won by Philippines food group San Miguel. It was a question of value for money.

“We were not prepared to go higher,” he said. “But we always have our eyes open for opportunities.”

Ferrier said Fonterra’s turnover in Australia was about A$1.5-$1.6bn (US$1.1-1.2bn). This included all of Bonlac and the recent acquisition of Nestlé’s Dennington plant in south-west Victoria.