The federal government has approved the $1.5 billion takeover of Bellamy’s by China Mengniu Dairy Company, although the infant formula maker will have to remain headquartered in Australia for a decade and run by a majority Australian board.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has backed the Foreign Investment Review Board’s view that the acquisition is not contrary to Australia’s national interest, but has imposed conditions including that majority of the Bellamy’s board of directors will have to be Australian resident citizens.
The Treasurer also requires the Chinese buyer to invest at least $12 million in infant milk formula processing facilities in Victoria.
“This approval will ensure Bellamy’s can continue to support jobs in Australia and strengthen its ability to expand its domestic market as well as its export opportunities, particularly into the growing Asian market,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“The decision will also provide opportunities for the suppliers that contribute to Bellamy’s products, including Australian dairy farmers.”
The Treasurer said the government welcomed foreign capital and investment, which supports Australia’s output, employment and standard of living.
“The conditional approval demonstrates our foreign investment rules can facilitate such an acquisition while giving assurance to the community that decisions are being made in a way which ensures that Australia’s national interest is protected,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Shares in Bellamy’s, which is No. 4 by market share in the Australian infant formula market, surged by more than 50 per cent on one day in September when China Mengniu Dairy Company’s $13.25 cash-per-share bid was announced.
The board of the Tasmania-based company unanimously recommended shareholders vote in favour of the proposal, but denied it had anything to do with fast-tracking Chinese regulation to allow expansion in the country.
After a lengthy wait, Bellamy’s is still waiting on backing from China’s State Administration for Market Regulations to sell organic formula in stores.
Bellamy’s shares jumped as much as 2.1 per cent to $13.22 in the minutes after Friday’s open, their highest value since July 2018.