Synlait shares priced at $2.20, company valued at $322m

Synlait's plant in Dunsandel, Canterbury.
Synlait's plant in Dunsandel, Canterbury.

Synlait Milk will sell shares at $2.20 apiece before joining the NZX later this month, valuing the dairy processor at $322 million and making it the 43rd biggest company on the exchange.

The Rakaia-based company plans to raise $75 million of new capital, and existing shareholders will sell $38.7 million, or 17.6 million shares, in a secondary offer, listing on July 23, Synlait Milk said in a statement.

Cornerstone shareholder Bright Dairy and Food won't participate in the offer, reducing its holding to about 39 per cent from the 51 per cent it acquired in 2010 after Synlait abandoned an earlier plan to go public because of tepid investor appetite after the global financial crisis.

The broker firm offer opens today, after the final price was set in a bookbuild to institutional investors earlier this week, and will close on July 19. There won't be a general public offer.

"There was strong support from a wide range of investors, comprising New Zealand and international institutional investors and New Zealand retail brokers," chairman Graeme Milne said in a statement. "This is a strong market endorsement for the compelling fundamentals of the New Zealand dairy industry and in particularly Synlait Milk's growth initiatives to accelerate the development of our infant formula and nutritional products business."

The float is the latest in a busy year for the stock exchange, and will increase the level of direct exposure investors can get to the dairy sector after exporter Fonterra Cooperative Group listed a unit trust last year and specialist milk processor A2 Corp joined the NZX 50 index amid rapid sales growth in Australia.

Synlait Milk will used the $75 million raised to repay debt and help fund construction of a new lactoferrin extraction and purification facility, an on-site blending and consumer packaging plant, a new dry store, a quality testing laboratory, a butter plant, and a new spray dryer, according to the prospectus.

The company is forecasting sales of $426.4 million in 2013, up from 2012's $376.8 million, and for 2014 sales are forecast to rise to $524.4 million. Underlying earnings before interest and tax are forecast to almost double this year to $26.9 million and rise to $32.1 million in 2014.

Synlait Milk, which operates the largest purpose built infant formula plant in the southern hemisphere, said in May it would spend $15 million to expand production of lactoferrin as a spray dried powder to pharmaceutical standards.

Then company's manufacturing site at Dunsandel currently has the capacity to process about 550 million litres of milk into 95,000 metric tonnes of products a year.

- BusinessDesk

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