Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief


A quick check on some of the players making news in agribusiness


RM Williams sale nears?

Australia's best known bootmaker brand RM Williams is reportedly on the cusp of being sold to another private equity giant, TPG Capital Management.

The US investment group is believed to be carrying out "late-stage due diligence" and securing about $250 million to fund the purchase of the Adelaide-based footwear and clothing business from its majority owner, French fashion giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH).

RM Williams has previously been estimated to be worth as much as $500m.

It was absorbed into its current ownership stable after an initial $110m cornerstone investment in 2013 and 2014 by private equity fund L Capital Asia, an investment offshoot of LVMH.

LVMH's other big name fashion brands include Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Christian Dior and champagne business, Moet Chandon.

It began looking at selling RM Willams in May last year.


Hot potato deal

After toying with a potential merger, Pure Foods Tasmania will pay $1.8 million to buy the farmer-owned Daly Potato Company in a cash and shares deal.

DPC was founded by Gerard and Susie Daly who have grown potatoes at Marion Bay on Tasmania's South East Coast for 30 years.

In 2016 they branched into making potato salads, then gin and vodka to value-add their second grade crops.

Sales via Coles, Woolworths and Metcash topped $2m in 2019-20, reflecting compound annual growth of 115 per cent since 2016-17

Pure Foods will issue 2.28m shares at 61 cents each, worth a total $1.4m over three annual stages and take on about $300,000 in debt, also paying the Daly family $100,000 when the deal settles in October.

Mrs Daly (pictured) will remain working with the business for three years and the couple have agreed to a five year potato supply contract.

Pure Foods Tasmania managing director Michael Cooper said meal solutions was a $1 billion market in Australia and large opportunities existed with Asian customers, too.


Science chief to v2food

Plant-based meat startup v2food has appointed prominent former CSIRO food scientist and University of Adelaide's head of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Professor Martin Cole as its new chief scientific advisor.

The alternate meat company produces v2mince and v2burgers and expects Professor Cole's input will be critical in "helping great-tasting plant-based meat a part of people's everyday diet".

Prior to joining v2food, Professor Cole was deputy director of CSIRO's Agriculture and Food division leading projects in areas such as food safety, processing, plant-based proteins and nutritional food security.

He is also an advisor of the UN Food Security Committee and a board member of Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Founder and chief executive officer at v2food Nick Hazell said the former leader of CSIRO's research program into alternative proteins had been an integral part of the v2food journey since day one and would bring world-leading technical expertise to bolster the company's research efforts

The "fake meat" maker also recently appointed Rory Gilbert as sales director and David Putt as plant manager at the company's Wodonga facility in Victoria.


Bubs capital quest

Goat milk infant products producer Bubs Australia is aiming to raise another $10 million from the share market with an 80 cents a share offer to existing investors.

Eligible shareholders will be able to spend up to $30,000 on new shares without incurring brokerage or transaction costs.

The company's offer follows a recently completed $28.3m share placement with institutional investors.

The capital raising program, which closes on September 23, is accumulating funds to cover the launch of the new Vita-Bubs range of children's vitamins and the planned purchase of Beingmate's infant formula factory in Behai, China.


New CopRice mill upgrade

SunRice's stockfeed business CopRice is to close its newly acquired Leongatha plant in Victoria's Gippsland for about six months to undertake an extensive upgrade.

SunRice this week completed the deal to buy the dairy and beef business of Riverbank Stockfeeds, which includes Riverbank's Leongatha mill and an extensive dairy business in southern Victoria.

The move helps CopRice significanly expand its dairy nutrition footprint.

"We will now make a significant investment to improve the quality and standard of the site," said CopRice general manager Peter McKinney.

"In the interim we will utilise our extensive manufacturing capability in Cobden, Tongala and Coleambally to maintain supply of high-quality products to Riverbank customers.

He said an outlay of less than $10 million in acquisition costs, working capital requirements and the upgrade work had enabled CopRice to secure a "fantastic asset and associated customer base" in the heart of one of Australia's premier dairy regions.


New GrainGrowers western director Richard Konzag and retiring director and deputy chairman Rod Birch with chairman Brett Hosking.

New GrainGrowers western director Richard Konzag and retiring director and deputy chairman Rod Birch with chairman Brett Hosking.

SA, WA GrainGrowers directors

South Australian Richard Konzag and current Western Australian director Rhys Turton have been elected by GrainGrowers' members as western region board directors until 2023.

"Rhys has been a fantastic director for GrainGrowers, and I congratulate him on his reappointment and I am also pleased to welcome Richard to the board" said GrainGrowers chairman, Brett Hosking.

Mr Konzag runs a family enterprise, working with his son and nephew and has had previous roles on the Advisory Board of Agriculture, the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Grain Growers Co-Op Board.

Mr Turton, from York, has been a grower director since 2017 and is president of WA Farmers Federation and chairs the Council of Grain Grower Organisations in Western Australia.

Rod Birch, from Coorow, WA, completed his term and stepped down as deputy chair of GrainGrowers at this week's annual general meeting.


MLA directors stand again

After analysing 98 applicants for three upcoming vacancies on the Meat and Livestock Australia board, the red meat industry's nine-person selection committee has endorsed existing directors Alan Beckett, Andrew Michael and Russell Lethbridge to stand for re-election.

The three, representing a third of MLA's board seats are due to retire at the conclusion of this year's November 19 annual general meeting.

MLA's skills-based board sought three candidates with extensive skills and experience in at least one specific area, including beef production with knowledge and experience in northern production systems, pastures, genetics and nutrition; sheepmeat production, including knowledge or experience in diverse production systems, and somebody for financial, audit and risk framework oversight with demonstrated knowledge and experience.

MLA AGM packs, including voting entitlements and proxy forms, and a copy of the 2019-20 MLA annual report, will be mailed to producer members from October 8.


TTTT cash to dry areas

Thirty six community-led projects helping to tackle the ongoing challenges faced by drought-affected communities across Australia will share nearly $1.3 million in grants, through the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal's Tackling Tough Times Together program.

The TTTT program helps local groups in rural, regional and remote communities Australia-wide tackle the effects of drought by building capacity, reducing social isolation, developing leadership and skills training, improving social and educational participation, and stimulating economic activity.

Rural areas impacted by drought, such as Longreach in Queensland, have used previous TTTT grants to fund community-led projects such as training workshops to help drive employment opportunities and run free community events that bring people together.

Donors, including the federal government the Pratt Foundation, Stockland CARE Foundation, Paul Ramsay Foundation, The Snow Foundation, Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, and Henroth Group, contribute to TTTT's coffers.

Some of the funds allocated this round were $142,897 to support the construction of the Sunset Strip Boulevard Walk of Fame in western NSW to attract increase tourism numbers; $36,702 to lift the capacity and sustainability of the Charters Towers Women of the Outback Shed in Queensland, and $60,000 for the Manangatang Improvement Group hall kitchen upgrade in north western Victoria.

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