Sale helps Waikato firm extend reach

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 11:36 28/02/2014
Waikato Milking Systems
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

Fresh start: Tainui’s Chris Joblin and Waikato Milking Systems’ John Anderson stand outside the company’s new $12million premises.

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Waikato Milking Systems has been bought out by a consortium of investors.

Sale of the company - which designs, builds and exports dairy systems and technology to more than 30 countries -went unconditional on Monday.

Tainui Group Holdings, Ngai Tahu Capital and Pioneer Capital will join Waikato Milking Systems' senior managers as the new shareholders in the company.

Milking Systems managing director John Anderson, who bought the company out with UPC capital in 2001, said the sale would allow for much faster growth.

"[We sold] to allow the company to continue to expand.

"We're going to have some shareholders on board, very strong, powerful shareholders with a very big balance sheet, and they are very keen to see us grow and expand."

He said the new shareholders were keen to see the company continue to expand oversees.

"The main area of focus is the international markets.

"We are currently active in some big markets, particularly China, the United States is a market that we are active in, but would like to get bigger, but we would like to be attracting attention from other markets, particularly Russia."

Anderson said the company was also penetrating into the Iranian market, and was looking to expand its offering overseas.

"[In] some of the markets, it's fair to say, we are more of a components seller, so what we are keen to do now is effectively sell a solution."

The company has had several offers of purchase since 2001, but engaged PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) to run a sale process only last year.

The three institutional investors will each hold a third of the equity in the partnership, with three senior managers from Waikato Milking Systems to have a minority shareholding.

Tainui Group Holdings chief financial officer Chris Joblin said the purchase fitted his company's desire to diversify and remain committed to the Waikato region.

"We'd previously indicated that we were interested in this space, and this is one of the opportunities that has come up.

"It's a significant deal," Joblin said.

"I don't really want to talk about numbers, but it's a significant deal and one that we are really very happy with."

He said the 120 jobs at Waikato Milking Systems would remain.

"We invest for growth, so obviously we want to support the company in its aspirations going forward."

Tainui Group Holdings says it has no plans to make changes to Waikato Milking Systems in the near future.

It already has co-investment agreements with Ngai Tahu, and is an investor in two Pioneer Capital funds.

Waikato Milking Systems recently signed up to Northgate Business Park, spending $12 million on a two-building complex.

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