VILNIUS – New Zealand dairy company Fonterra has invested little over €7 million in Lithuanian dairy producer Rokiskio Suris.
The co-operative has bought more than 3.58 million shares in Rokiskio, valued overall at around €7.1 million.
The investment had been under negotiation for some time, with Rokiskio issuing a statement at the end of November warning that it would seek to recover any losses if Fonterra withdrew from the planned share issue as a result of unsettled lawsuits. The warning was prompted by disputes between existing shareholders.
The new shares amount to around 5.5% of northeastern Lithuania-based Rokiskio, valuing it at at least €142 million.
The company makes a range of Rokiskio-branded hard and semi-hard cheese, as well as mozzarella, butter and dairy ingredients including milk powder and dried whey protein concentrate.
The announcement comes as Fonterra’s foodservice business, Anchor Food Professionals, announced it had become New Zealand’s sixth biggest export business with more than NZD 2 billion ($1.44 billion) in annual revenue over the past year.
Fonterra chief operating officer for consumer and foodservice, Lukas Paravacini, said the achievement is the result of changing lifestyles by consumers and a new way of working, which is about partnering with customers to help their businesses succeed in a rapidly growing industry.
Group wide, Fonterra employs 22,000 people – including 10,500 farmer-owners – with annual turnover of NZD 19.2 billion ($15.52 billion) in 2016.
At the last count, full-year revenues were up 12% due to high-value consumer products, with sales of its advanced ingredients segment up 9% year-on-year.
In September, the co-operative confirmed it had lodged a bid for Australia’s largest dairy processor, Murray Goulburn, joining a growing list of names believed to be interested in a move for the struggling dairy business.