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March 11, 2019

Wilmar International to buy out Goodman Fielder co-investor First Pacific

Goodman Fielder, the Australia-based food manufacturer behind brands including Helga's bread and Meadow Fresh milk, is set to see a change in its ownership.

By Dean Best

Singapore-based agri-food giant Wilmar International is set to become the sole owner of Goodman Fielder, the Australia-based food manufacturer behind brands including Helga’s bread and Meadow Fresh milk.

Wilmar International is to acquire the 50% of Goodman Fielder it does not already own from co-shareholder First Pacific, the Hong Kong-based investment fund.

The investors paid AUD1.37bn (US$965.4m) for Goodman Fielder, which also owns brands including Crest chicken and Praise mayonnaise, in 2015. There were reports last autumn First Pacific had started looking to sell its shares.

In a stock-exchange filing, Wilmar said it would pay US$180m in cash for the shares and put forward another US$95m to buy loans advanced by First Pacific to FPW Singapore, the vehicle through which the investors owned Goodman Fielder.

If Goodman Fielder meets “certain earnings targets” for the financial year ending 31 December 2020, Wilmar will pay another amount of up to US$50m.

Wilmar said the price it was paying for First Pacific’s stake “was determined from the valuation of [Goodman Fielder] on a willing buyer-willing seller basis”, taking into account shareholder loans owing to the investment fund.

“The acquisition is being undertaken as Wilmar is of the view that significant improvements in the performance of [Goodman Fielder] can be created if it is wholly-owned and managed by Wilmar.”

Outside Australia, notable markets for Goodman Fielder include New Zealand – where it has 11 plants – as well as Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, First Pacific said FPW Singapore Holdings generated a net profit of US$18m after taxation and non-controlling interests in 2017, compared to US$35m in 2016.

First Pacific said Wilmar had a first right of refusal over its Goodman Fielder stake. First Pacific explained the sale of its shares in Goodman Fielder “fulfils a management commitment to streamline the company’s investment portfolio and use the proceeds … to finance debt reduction and share repurchases”.

It added: “The sale enables the company to focus on its strongest investments in its core sectors within Asian emerging markets.”

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