Pathetic. How do antediluvians like this survive in the world?
First point: Fonterra's business is Fonterra's business, not Mr Woolerton's. Second point: So what if "foreign owners" hold shares in Fonterra? Will they suddenly start shipping farm land offshore? Or will they instead bring in much needed capital to the under-capitalised NZ farming industry. Third point, made so succinctly by Cactus Kate:
Farming has become far too big business for small fry. Present family included, long are the days that a family should slave its way through farming... Farms are now multi-million dollar businesses. What city dwelling young University educated person believes and expects they should be set up in a multi-million dollar business? Why should Nationalistic romantics like those in NZ First claim farm ownership as some kind of natural Kiwi birthright? It's a notion that is long gone... Corporate ownership of all New Zealand farms is inevitable and should be welcome. It would make the operation of 'Fongterra' far simpler.Postscript: Cactus has a farm she's willing to sell. "Chinese buyers most welcome."
UPDATE: The usually perceptive Bernard Hickey comments:
It’s fantastic to see the board of Fonterra take a big risk and put the idea of a stockmarket float to its farmer shareholders. It will be tough to get across the 75% threshold for success, but it’s worth a try.Read on here: Why Fonterra Must Float and Become a Kiwi Nokia.
Dairy farmers are inherently conservative and are deeply attached to the idea of a cooperative. More importantly, they are deeply sceptical about the idea of townies in shiny suits (or even worse, foreigners in shiny suits) owning their dairy company.
Fonterra is on the brink of a global boom in demand for fresh dairy products from equally booming middles classes in India, Brazil and China. It has a once in a lifetime opportunity to build farms, factories and brands in these other markets to sell fresh milk and yoghurt to these middle classes. But it can’t afford the $5 billion needed to do it without outside capital. The proposal to sell 20% of Fonterra to outside investors seems sensible and restrained. The restrictions on individual stakes being no more than 10% and on the cooperative owning no less than 50.1% may even convince the doubters.
I really hope they do. I grew up on a dairy farm and I’m guessing my Dad doesn’t agree with me. All I would do would be to point him to the example of Nokia and Finland back in the early 1990s...