A Canadian pension fund has bought a major stake in New Zealand's biggest corporate dairy farmer, Dairy Holdings.
Sooke Investments, a subsidiary of giant Quebec public service pension fund manager PSP Investments, has bought 24.9 per cent of South Island-based Dairy Holdings, whose other major shareholders are Colin and Dale Armer and Murray and Margaret Turley.
The Sooke buy-in follows the exit from Dairy Holdings a year ago of Jagewi Ltd, owned by JD & RD Wallace Ltd, John Luxton and Luxton family interests and Auckland businessman Paul Benjamin.
A passive investor, Sooke, through PSP Investments, has existing interests in New Zealand, including in forestry heavyweight Kaingaroa Timberlands, and it owns Global Herd Ltd.
PSP has also been increasing its investments across the Tasman. In October last year, through Sooke and another subsidiary, BidCo, it bought listed Australian agribusiness Webster for $854 million.
Dairy Holdings chairman Greg Gent said he was unable to comment immediately.
Dairy Holdings is the biggest shareholder in Fonterra, with more than $1 billion of assets.
The Ashburton-based company has 75 dairy and grazing properties in the South Island, and its 50,000-plus cows yield more than 17 million kilograms of milk solids a year.
Companies Office records show Jagewi sold 556,709 shares in Dairy Holdings.
These were taken up equally by existing shareholders Pure Pasture Investments, majority owned by the Tauranga-based Armers, and Turdair 2019 Ltd, majority-owned by the Turleys, large-scale potato and arable growers from Temuka.
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Just over 399,000 shares were allocated to Sooke Investments. It is not known how much the stake cost.
John Luxton of sold-up shareholder Jagewi Ltd told the Herald he had had interests in Dairy Holdings since 1993 and the time had come for Jagewi shareholders "to move on".
The Waikato dairy farms owner and former National Party Cabinet minister said the sale "allowed each of us an opportunity to consolidate our separate business interests".
"We were pleased with it."