more details about Yili

December 23rd, 2012

Today’s news brings more details about Yili’s plans for New Zealand, with some analysis, too. Good, because yesterday’s report wasn’t all that informative. And some of today’s extra detail and analysis is quite interesting.

What I found yesterday said that Yili had already bought Oceania Dairy Group. I’m finding it hard to parse tense in this sentence:

公告称,伊利通过下属境外全资子公司伊利国际发展有限公司及香港金港商贸控股有限公司购买新西兰大洋洲乳业有限公司100%股权(以下简称“大洋洲乳业”),并通过大洋洲乳业在新西兰新建年产4.7万吨婴儿配方奶粉项目,项目占地面积8公顷。

The announcement said had bought/will buy 100% of Oceania Dairy Limited through its wholly-owned foreign subsidiary Yili International Development Co., Limited and Hong Kong Jingang Trade Holding Co., Limited, and through Oceania Dairy will build an infant formula project in New Zealand producing 47 thousand tons annually.

I’m pretty sure that the building is future tense because both today’s and yesterday’s reports state that the project needs the approval of the Chinese and NZ governments. But I can’t tell if the buying should be past, present or future. Yesterday’s Dairy Reporter article definitely has the buying done already. The Companies Office lists eight shareholders in Oceania Dairy Ltd, none of which are Yili or Jingang. Once again I’m struggling to find any reports in NZ’s English language media – though I did accidentally stumble across a relevant article on Sky Kiwi. Unfortunately Sky Kiwi doesn’t add any clarity, and the texts of the two articles are so incredibly similar that I have to wonder…

I’m also a little confused about this:

大洋洲乳业拥有建设全脂奶粉加工厂的土地使用许可证,新建项目可对大洋洲乳业获得的土地使用许可证和环境资源许可手续进行沿用或变更,并可拥有购买土地的权力。

Oceania Dairy has land use rights to build a whole fat milk powder factory. The new project could continue to use or alter Oceania Dairy’s land use rights and resource consent, and Oceania Dairy has rights to purchase land.

Ummm… I’m beginning to suspect that Gucheng articles are just really poorly written, but the above is how I interpret that. Sky Kiwi specifies that Oceania Dairy has rights to purchase 38 hectares of land, but otherwise doesn’t shed much more light – oh, except that its sentence on this aspect is clearer and starts with 目标公司- target company? Does that suggest that Oceania Dairy hasn’t yet been bought out?

Also interesting is the note that from 2003 to 2010, Canadian and European milk prices were relatively high, and Chinese milk prices second only to Sweden, whereas US, South American and Pacific milk prices were relatively low. Comparatively low milk prices combined with the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which will see import tariffs on dairy products reduced to zero in 2020, make this investment in New Zealand part of Yili’s overseas development strategy.

Judging by reports I’ve read over the last year or so, I suspect many Kiwis would be surprised to hear that NZ milk prices are comparatively low.

And another interesting comment is this:

王丁棉认为,伊利的新西兰生产的奶粉很可能不会沿用“伊利”品牌,而更大可能地启用一个新的品牌,“就像光明在新西兰进口的奶粉不叫光明牌,而是‘培尔贝瑞’一样。”

Wang Dingmian [a dairy expert] thinks that Yili won’t use the “Yili” brand  for its New Zealand-produced milk powder, but would more likely use a new brand, “just like Bright’s New Zealand-made milk powder is not called Bright, but ‘Pure Canterbury'”

Pure Canterbury? Well, apparently yes. And I do seem to vaguely remember reading about it at the time. Synlait is 51% owned by Shanghai’s Bright Dairy.

And why not use the Yili brand? Perhaps because it already carries the taint of past food safety/contamination scandals? Perhaps launching a whole new brand allows them to launch a whole new story with new values that include pure, uncontaminated and safe? Just guessing here, I’m not a businessman.

Unfortunately Oceania Dairy’s own website does less than nothing to shed light on this issue, its latest news being dated 25 February, 2010. I suppose that project near Glenavy, South Canterbury could be the land use rights/resource consent mentioned above, but February 2010 is not far short of three years ago.

So, a bit more detail, but just as many questions as yesterday.

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