Keen to advance its live cattle export market ambitions in China, livestock shipper Wellard has appointed Chinese businessman and Macquarie University trade graduate, Kanda Lu, as an executive director.
He will represent Wellard’s major Chinese shareholder, Fulida, where he is currently assistant to the chairman.
He also becomes managing director of Wellao, the Chinese subsidiary taken over by Wellard, where he will be responsible for the development and growth of the Australian company’s entry into the Chinese beef cattle market.
His appointment comes as new Wellard shareholder and big West Australian cattle business Heytesbury Limited bought a further $1.7 million in shares to help make up the 49.3m share shortfall in the company’s one-for-four entitlement offer to raise $52m last month.
The Holmes a Court family’s business group, which includes the 2.5m hectare Heytesbury Cattle Company, has now lifted its stake in Wellard to 10.4pc.
The live exporter’s strategy for China involves working with third party livestock importers as well as developing its own supply chain through Wellao’s investment in Chinese feedlots and an abattoir.
Chief executive officer, Mauro Balzarini, said the timing of Wellao’s Chinese development would be dictated by market conditions.
Mr Lu, who has a strong grounding in Chinese commerce, distribution and marketing, fills a seat at the board table left by retiring non-executive director, Greg Wheeler.
He previously worked as head of sales of with Shanghai investment funds manager, Morgan Stanley Huaxin and was a vice president of Hong Kong financial services group Ping An Securities.
He graduated from Sydney’s Macquarie University with a Master’s degree in International Relations, a Masters of International Trade and Commerce Law, and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce.
In addition to joining Wellard’s board, Mr Lu has been made head of China initiatives.
“Wellard has been exporting cattle to China for a decade now as a supplier of breeding cattle, but the new protocol for slaughter and feeder cattle is an enormous opportunity to expand into this huge market,” Mr Balzarini said.
“The skills Kanda brings to Wellard and Wellao, combined with his intimate knowledge of Chinese market dynamics as well as asset and managements skills, sets Wellard apart from its competitors and will enable it to capitalise on its potential.”
The company’s core business supplying existing operators in China was now being implemented.
Mr Lu said the China market provided untapped opportunity for live cattle exporters and Australian producers.
“Like all new trading relationships, it will take time to establish, but when it does the possibilities are exciting,” he said.
“The company has done an excellent job in managing the current tight trading environment and its modern shipping fleet and livestock procurement and export expertise means it is well positioned to benefit from the expected change to the commercial landscape.”
Wellard also plans to conduct a search for an additional non-executive director not associated with any major shareholder to fill an independent seat on the board.