Top firm helps in major agri company’s realignment process

by Sol Dolor22 Aug 2018

The industry realignment process of a world-renowned horticultural company is well underway with the help of a leading law firm.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts is advising Zespri Group on its targeted share issue and buy-back program launched as part of the company’s revamp.

Zespri, the world’s largest grower and marketer of kiwifruit, lodged its product disclosure statement, disclose register entry, and buy-back disclosure document with the registrar of financial service providers for review of the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority. It has also submitted the documents to the USX share-trading platform.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts partner Silvana Schenone said that the share issue and buy-back process is a key step for the kiwifruit industry, which aims to bolster grower ownership and control of Zespri. Schenone leads the top law firm’s team advising on the transaction.

“Zespri is a world renowned New Zealand brand, and getting the balance right between shareholders and growers is essential for the continued success of the industry,” she said.  “Currently a large proportion of growers are under-shared or do not hold shares in the company. The process launched today aims to address this imbalance, allowing current growers access to dividends as well as fruit payments.”

The capital raising could net Zespri a substantial amount of capital for its buy-back program.

“The share offer could raise up to NZ$945 million if full entitlements are taken up, which will support the buy-back offer,” Schenone said.

The share issue commences 3 September, while the buy-back program starts on 17 September. Both will be open until 19 October.

“We are pleased to be able to offer eligible people the opportunity to purchase or sell shares in Zespri, following extensive industry consultation and changes to the Zespri Constitution. The targeted share offer and buy-back is one of the key measures of our goal to strengthen grower ownership and control of Zespri and is important for the long-term sustainability of our industry,” said Peter McBride, Zespri chairman.