Romano resigns from Shanghai Pengxin group

Pengxin's outgoing CEO, Gary Romano.
Pengxin's outgoing CEO, Gary Romano.

Gary Romano has resigned his position with Chinese group Shanghai Pengxin in New Zealand.

Romano was appointed chief executive of Pengxin International in early 2014 and later appointed chief executive of Hunan Dakang. The board of Hunan Dakang confirmed in a statement today that he had resigned.

The statement said Romano "is pleased with what has been achieved over that time in the creation of a strong local business with an equally strong and capable team."
Chairman Jize Peng will perform as the acting chief executive of Hunan Dakang pending a new appointment.

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Romano resigned his directorships with Pengxin's local units over November and December last year after the dairy investor's bid to buy Lochinver Station was knocked back by the government.

The government scuttled Pengxin's $88 million proposed purchase of Lochinver in September last year, saying the transaction failed on the test of providing a substantial benefit to New Zealand.

The decision ended a long wait for the diversified investor, owned by Chinese billionaire Jiang Zhaobai, which had agreed to buy the 13,843 hectare farm near Lake Taupo from concrete, quarrying and engineering firm Stevenson Group in 2014.
Lochinver was sold in November to New Zealand farming group Rimanui Farms, and Pengxin withdrew from buying the neighbouring Taharua Farm, and a separate deal to buy the so-called "Pinny" farms in Northland.

Pengxin came to prominence in New Zealand with the 2012 acquisition of the 16 Crafar dairy farms, part of New Zealand's largest family-owned dairy business which had been put into receivership. The Chinese company's local website notes the "challenging" purchase of those farms, following two years of controversy over the land ownership.

The purchase was met with widespread opposition as political parties ramped up pressure on the government over the sale of large tracts of farm land to foreign interests, particularly Chinese. Pengxin also owns 74 percent of South Island dairy farmer Synlait Farms, which supplies processor Synlait Milk.

Before joining the Chinese group, Romano headed Fonterra's local milk unit, but resigned the position after the milk botulism scare in 2013.

- BusinessDesk

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