Dairy

Formula maker blends business

By Country News

Infant formula maker Wattle Health Australia has agreed to buy a controlling stake in a Victorian blending and canning operation for $46million.

WHA is buying the 46 per cent stake in Blend & Pack, which specialises in blending and canning dairy nutrition and infant formula, from GL Food, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Mason Holdings.

WHA already owned a small stake in Blend & Pack and the new purchase would take its total shareholding to 51 per cent.

Blend & Pack said its facility in the south-east Melbourne suburb of Hallam was highly mechanised and produced dried dairy products for many major domestic and international dairy companies.

The independent company is accredited in China, which brings WHA a step closer to selling its products there, WHA executive chair Lazarus Karasavvidis said.

‘‘With this acquisition WHA becomes a fully vertically integrated Australian organic dairy company with influence, control and bricks and mortar investments through the entire value chain — from the farm gate to the consumer,’’ he said.

The acquisition will be funded through a private debt placement managed by international capital advisory firm Exotix Capital.

Exotix chief executive Duncan Wales said the company would have significant appeal to North American private placement debt investors, given its exposure to high-growth Asian markets.

Under the agreement, Abbotsford-based WHA also has the right to buy Mason Holding’s remaining 29 per cent interest in Blend & Pack, at a base price of $30.1million plus option fees.