10 Jun 2013

Support for new PGG Wrightson CEO

7:00 am on 10 June 2013

Forsyth Barr analyst Andy Bowley says PGG Wrightson's appointment of Mark Dewdney as chief executive is a strong choice to head the rural services company.

Mr Bowley said Mr Dewdney's experience in the agri-technology industry places him in good stead to reinvigorate the company's AgriTech division.

Mr Dewdney was formerly chief executive of Livestock Improvement Corporation, a farmer-owned co-operative dedicated to improving dairy farm productivity.

In that role, he supported the joint bid in 2011 by China-based Agria and Ngai Tahu to take control of PGG Wrightson, and LIC lent Agria $10 million to help finance taking its stake to 50.2%.

At the time, Mr Dewdney said LIC was supporting Agria because it hoped under Agria's leadership PGG Wrightson would separate out its Agritech seeds, animal health and feed supplements business and LIC would then be able to invest in Agritech.

PGG Wrightson director Trevor Burt, who is also chairman of Ngai Tahu, says separating out Agritech isn't on the immediate agenda but is something the board will consider.

Mr Dewdney will be the company's third head in three years - current managing director George Gould replaced Tim Miles in February 2011.

Mr Burt said it was Mr Dewdney's experience which landed him the job, rather than his previous support of Agria, but his knowledge of Agria may have influenced his decision to accept the position.

He said the company is entering a new phase and he expects Mr Dewdney will stay long term.

Agria was unable to repay LIC the full $10 million when it came due late last year but paid $5 million plus interest and negotiated to repay the other $5 million in March 2014.