WATTLE Health Australia still hopes to maintain some ownership in the Corio Bay Dairy Group’s spray dryer plant in Geelong, after plunging the joint venture company into administration.
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The Corio Bay Dairy Group still needs a $20 million injection to complete its spray dryer plant. Picture: Chloe Smith

WHA managing director Tony McKenna said his company would work with the administrators of CBDG “to get a result for all creditors”.

Dr McKenna said if a partner wanted to work with Wattle Health Australia on completing the plant in return for a majority shareholding in CBDG, then WHA would consider holding a minor stake.

Last week, CBDG administrator David Mutton lodged minutes of the first creditors’ meeting with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission held on September 2.

It showed CBDG’s debt at $52 million, of which WHA accounted for $44 million through a secured loan.

Builder of the Geelong factory George Rydell Constructions Pty Ltd is owed just over $4 million, the Australian Taxation Office owed $66,000, and 13 other companies and individuals installing the spray dryer owed the remainder.

Dr McKenna said the past six months had been a “challenging period” for WHA.

The company ran out of money to complete the spray dryer plant in April, it had a huge fallout with its major joint venture partner in CBDG — Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia — culminating in ODFA being placed in receivership and it failed to secure $20 million in funding for CBDG.

The assets of ODFA — the land and milk processing plant at Geelong — were sold to The Remarkable Milk Company last month.

The Remarkable Milk Company is closely associated with Kyvalley Dairy Group, which has a bottling plant inside the Geelong processing plant supplying Aldi with fresh milk.

Dr McKenna would not be drawn on whether TRMC or Kyvalley Dairy Group would partner with WHA in the CBDG plant.

“There is the possibility of an interest for Kyvalley or The Remarkable Milk Company, but it doesn’t preclude other companies being involved,” he said.

“There have been no extensive discussions with them.”

The Remarkable Milk Company has just registered three business names in the past two weeks: Australian Organic Dairy Processing Centre, Australian Organic Processing Centre and Organic Dairy Farmers Australia.

But Kyvalley Dairy Group and TRMC director Wayne Mulcahy said it was purely coincidental the new business names had been registered at a similar time as the CBDG fell into administration.

Mr Mulcahey said his companies had held no discussions with WHA over purchasing a share of the CBDG plant.

He said it was an obvious assumption TRMC or Kyvalley Dairy Group would be interested in the plant due to the synergies between the two operations and it being right next door.

“It’s a lot of money (to buy into the plant),” he said.

“At this stage, we are probably not interested.

“We just bought the rest of it (the ODFA plant) and that’s tapped us out.

“But never say never.”

Peter Hemphill’s family holds shares in Wattle Health Australia

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

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