Mark Patterson MP, Primary Industries Spokesperson
New Zealand First is disappointed that shareholders have accepted a $588 million offer by Yili Industrial Group to buy Westland Milk Group, says Mark Patterson, New Zealand First Spokesperson for Primary Industries.
“This is a sad day indeed for New Zealand. Our second-largest dairy cooperative has now been lost to foreign interests, and the West Coast has lost a crucial part of its 150-year-old dairying heritage,” says Mr Patterson.
“The sale represents the further erosion of New Zealand control over our productive sector. Another asset of strategic importance to our economy flogged off to the highest bigger,” he added.
The decision comes just months after iconic Kiwi ice cream brand Tip Top sold to European company Froneri, a company owned in part by Swiss multinational Nestlé, and some three years after the sale of Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s leading marketer, processor and exporter of premium quality lamb, beef, and venison to the rest of the world, to Shanghai Maling.
“It was the prerogative of Westland’s shareholders to vote to approve the sale, but an alarming trend is emerging. It is hard to see how the increasing loss of control of our important industry is in the long-term best interests of New Zealand.
“This is why New Zealand First supports a ‘national interest’ test as part of the Overseas Investment Office’s processes, which is being considered by the Government. We need to balance the short-term gains of the sale of assets overseas against the long-term benefits for the country,” says Mr Patterson.