Japanese-listed Itoham Yonekyu Holdings has received Overseas Investment Office approval to increase its shareholding of Anzco Foods to 100 per cent, from the 65 per cent it already owned.

Anzco was New Zealand's second-largest meat company and fifth-largest exporter in 2016, with turnover of $1.5 billion and 3,000 employees.

It was already 83.3 per cent overseas owned, with 16.8 per cent of the company held by Japanese marine products company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, known as Nissui, and the remaining 18.2 per cent owned by the company's chair Graeme Harrison and management.

Harrison will step down at the company's next annual meeting in March, having signalled his plans for retirement in 2015.


Itoham Yonekyu has said it won't make any significant changes to Anzco's business operations in the foreseeable future, Anzco said. Itoham, a listed company, is 39 per cent owned by Mitsubishi Corp.

Anzco is part of two primary growth partnerships, the $58 million FoodPlus red meat project and the Red Meat Profit Partnership. The new government has said the future funding of the PGP programme, which is funded by government and industry, is under review.

The company said the buyout was "a strong vote of confidence in the New Zealand meat sector" and is an important part of Itoham Yonekyu's plan to grow its business internationally, especially in Asian markets outside Japan.

Anzco will be able to "capitalise on synergy benefits and efficiencies from the considerable experience and networks of Itoham Yonekyu and Mitsubishi Corp", it said.