Brownes Dairy - now in Chinese hands.

Brownes Dairy - now in Chinese hands.

Australia's Brownes Dairy is to target export markets after it was sold by its private-equity owner to a Chinese consortium that includes dairy operator Shanghai Ground Food Tech.

Brownes was sold - by Archer Capital, which bought it in 2011 - to Australia Zhiran Co., a vehicle backed by a consortium that also had investment firm Changchun Lianxin Investment Consulting Company as a member.

Brownes, a 130-year old dairy business based near Perth, said there would be no job losses as a result of the deal and that its management team would stay in place.

The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

In a statement, Brownes described Shanghai Ground Food Tech as "experienced dairy operators who understand the industry".

Brownes chief executive Tony Girgis said: "As it has done for 130 years, Brownes will remain an important part of the WA {Western Australia}
community and continue to contribute to the sustainability of the local dairy industry.

"This deal is a significant step in positioning Brownes for growth well into the future and we are excited at the opportunities offered to the business, our suppliers, employees and consumers."

Shanghai Ground Food Tech is an established dairy company publicly listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It conducts dairy operations in China, focusing on liquid milk and cheese products. It has four dairy processing factories and is also one of the country's largest cheese manufacturers.

Girgis said the deal would pave the way for Brownes to develop new product lines and access emerging export markets, particularly in Asia.

"Not only will we seek to expand into new products such as cheese, but we will also be better positioned to take advantage of export opportunities and promote the WA [Western Australia] dairy industry to a much wider audience," he said.

"Day-to-day there will be no disruption to our employees and suppliers and we expect to be able to make more positive announcements in the near future."

just-food first revealed that Brownes was lined up for sale in November 2016.