27 Nov 2012

Campaigner supports Australian takeover offer for WSI

8:30 pm on 27 November 2012

An Australian takeover of New Zealand's biggest wool exporter has the support of a long-time campaigner for farmer control of the industry.

Cliff Heath, chairman of farmer-owned investment company Wool Equities, led a bid last year for a farmer buyout of New Zealand Wool Services International (WSI) which runs one of the country's two scouring operations as well as exporting wool.

That did not proceed, but Mr Heath thinks there are positive aspects to a takeover offer from Australian investment company WSI Holdings, an associated company of Melbourne-based wool merchant and processor Lempriere.

Its initial bid for the majority shareholdings in WSI has now been extended to an offer for all the shares.

After getting a favourable independent report, WSI's independent directors are supporting the offer.

Mr Heath says he would have preferred to see the exporter in farmer hands, but believes the bid from Lempriere also has a lot going for it.

He says Lempriere has been in the wool business for 150 years and has had a New Zealand presence for a considerable period.

Mr Heath says the Australian company's indication that it would retain WSI's wool scouring operation is positive.

Offer documents go out to WSI shareholders this week with the recommendation that they accept.