Tamsyn Parker

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor

Fonterra deal lures Asians

Shareholders' Fund expected to attract $500m for listing in November or December

Asian investors are lining up to buy into Fonterra's soon-to-be-listed Fonterra Shareholders' Fund, says a market source.

The investment fund, which will be linked to Fonterra's Trading Among Farmers market, is expected to attract $500 million for a sharemarket listing in either November or December.

The senior market source said Fonterra was a very well-known brand internationally and was attracting a lot of interest.

Locally the unit trust has met with a mixed reaction with some institutional investors not keen to buy in because the investment does not come with any voting rights or ownership of Fonterra itself. The unit trust also only takes into account the value-added part of the dairy business, not the pure milk price itself where much of the gains have come from in recent years.

Market commentator Arthur Lim said it would not be a surprise if there was a lot of interest out of Asia.

"I don't think it will be multimillionaire individuals wanting to buy in but institutional investors interested in having a stake in the dairy sector."

Lim said he expected a fair chunk to be taken up by international investors.

He said the structure of the fund would be a turn-off for some New Zealanders but overseas investors would be more likely to overlook the issues in a bid to get exposure to the New Zealand dairy industry.

"I think they will be more accommodating."

Lim said one of the issues with the fund was there was still concern about how the dividends were worked out.

The TAF share trading scheme had attracted "significant" investor interest after the co-operative conducted "pre-deal" roadshows, chief executive Theo Spierings said.

Fonterra said the scheme was on track for introduction before the year's end, and the prospectus would be released towards the end of October.

Chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said the majority of farmers he had spoken to were looking forward to bringing TAF to its conclusion, despite its at times controversial history.

Once the prospectus is filed, there will be a supply-based book build for the shares and a demand-based book build.

There are two main components to the scheme - the Fonterra Shareholders' Market and the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund.

The shareholders' market will be available only to farmers and the shareholders' fund will be open to farmers and the investing public. The separate fund, which will operate along similar lines to a unit trust, is expected to be worth not less than $500 million.

Result at a glance:
* Record NZ milk flows, up 11 per cent to 1493m kg of milksolids.
* An 11 per cent increase in export volumes to 2.32m tonnes.
* Sales volumes up 2 per cent to 3.94m tonnes.
* Higher operating cash flows of $1.4b, up $206m.
* Net profit down 19 per cent to $624m.

- NZ Herald

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