The sale of Westland Milk Products to Chinese dairy company Yili does not mean Fonterra will go the same way, says Marc Rivers.
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Fonterra CFO Marc Rivers. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Fonterra’s chief financial officer Rivers told The Country’s West Coast correspondent Andy Thompson that, hypothetically, such a sale would be up to the owners and subject to OIO approval.
“But I think that’s extremely hypothetical”.
Thompson joined The Country’s Jamie Mackay to quiz Rivers on whether the sale of Westland means the death of the dairy cooperative model in New Zealand.
“My personal view is, I think the cooperative model actually is far from dead. I think it’s a strong economic model. It’s quite suited especially to fresh produce” said Rivers.
Fonterra’s share price tanked to (as low as) $3.49 yesterday, which was 30 per cent lower than this time last year.
Rivers was unsure what had prompted the drop, but speculated it may have had to do with Westland.
“There’s nothing new in the underlying performance of Fonterra to warrant that kind of movement. So one can only speculate what’s on folk’s minds.

“It was on the same day that the votes with Westland’s farmer shareholders happened so perhaps that was in the back of the minds of some folks – but it’s just important for everyone to remember we’ve quite a different circumstance for Fonterra”.
Mackay asked if Rivers was concerned that Fonterra farmers would sell their shares where possible, resulting in a “flight of capital” from the business.
“Our current structure is designed to avoid that kind of risk” said Rivers.
“But of course, the pressure’s on us to perform and do well and that’s the pressures that we respond to”.
Also in today’s interview: Thompson, who attended yesterday’s Westland meeting, talks about farmers’ bittersweet feeling over the vote.

It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused milk prices to plummet…

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