Andy Macleod, the chief executive of the Chinese-owned Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group, has resigned.

Macleod has led the group since April 2013, overseeing the management of the 16 Central North Island 'Crafar' farms, part of New Zealand's largest family-owned dairy business which had been put into receivership, and 13 farms in Canterbury previously owned by Synlait Farms, which supplies processor Synlait Milk.

Milk New Zealand, Shanghai Pengxin Group's local unit, said it appreciated Macleod's contribution to the business and wished him well for the future. The statement from managing director Terry Lee didn't say why Macleod had resigned, although it said recruitment is under way for a new chief executive. The resignation took effect from July 8.

An advisory board has been established for the farm group, which will oversee the appointment of a new chief executive and advise the company on farm operations. The board is chaired by former Fonterra Cooperative Group director Greg Gent and includes directors Matt Ross, Craig Hurst, Terry Lee and Tony Nie.


Shangai Pengxin hit the headlines in September last year after the government scuttled its proposed $88 million purchase of Lochinver farm, 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 then sold 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.

Macleod's exit follows the departure of former Fonterra executive Gary Romano, who resigned his directorships with Pengxin's local units over November and December last year.