Hong Kong's First Pacific has sold its half share in Australasian food group Goodman Fielder to the other 50 per cent shareholder, Singapore's Wilmar International, for US$300 million ($440m).

Wilmar - one of the world's biggest palm oil plantation and trading companies - said "significant improvements" in Goodman Fielder's performance could be created if the business was wholly-owned and managed.

First Pacific said the sale of Goodman Fielder - one of its biggest holdings - fulfilled a management commitment to streamline the company's investment portfolio.

The Hong Kong-listed investment company said it would use the proceeds to finance debt reduction and for share repurchase.


"The sale enables the company to focus on its strongest investments in its core sectors within Asian emerging markets," it said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The transaction is expected to result in the company recording a non-cash non-recurring loss of about US$280 million, it said.

Goodman Fielder is based in Sydney. In New Zealand, Goodman Fielder has 13 manufacturing sites and employs 1800 people.

The company exports Meadow Fresh UHT milk and is the name behind brands such as Vogels and Molenberg bread, Chesdale, and Edmonds, among several others.

Wilmar and First Pacific paid A$1.37 billion for Goodman Fielder in 2015.

Wilmar, one of Asia's leading agribusiness group, is ranked among the largest listed companies by market capitalisation on the Singapore Exchange.

Its business activities include oil palm cultivation, oilseed crushing, edible oils refining, sugar milling and refining, manufacturing of consumer products, specialty fats, biodiesel and fertilisers as well as flour and rice milling.

The company has over 500 manufacturing plants and an extensive distribution network covering China, India, Indonesia and some 50 other countries and a multinational workforce of about 90,000 people.


Wilmar, as a big player in palm oil, frequently clashes with environmental groups over deforestation issues.

The deal means Wilmar will pay US$180m for the stake. It will also take over US$95m in shareholder loans and may pay Oceanica another US$50m after 2020 if Goodman Fielder meets certain earnings targets.