Fonterra releases investment fund unit price

Units in Fonterra's shareholders fund will start at $5.50 and the fund will launch at $525 million, the dairy giant says.

The price was at the top end of the range in the fund's prospectus.

The final price was decided after an institutional offer and bookbuild over the last two days.

Trading of the units starts on the NZX this Friday.
 
Fifty-eight percent of units has been allocated to New Zealand retail and institutional investors, as well as the so-called "friends of Fonterra", which includes share milkers and staff. 

That leaves 42% allocated to offshore institutions.

Because of a shortfall of farmers selling the economic rights of their shares into the fund, Fonterra will issue around 90 million shares. 

Fonterra, New Zealand's largest company, says it does not intend to permanently retain the resulting equity, but doesn't explain what it will be used for.

The company's chief financial officer Jonathan Mason says issuing new shares will dilute earnings per share by about 1%.

Holders of the units are entitled to the dividends but not the voting rights of Fonterra shares, with farmers concerned to ensure they retained control of the company.

More than 2500 members of what it called the 'Fonterra Family' and about 7000 retail and institutional investors took up the units. Among offshore parties reportedly keen to hold the units was China's sovereign wealth fund, the $US400 billion China Investment Corp.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings says in a statement: “Investors recognised there was some complexity in the structure of trading among farmers, but there was strong acknowledgement of Fonterra’s leading position and clear growth strategy."

“We are pleased that the allocations reflect the co-operative’s objectives.  The majority of units are held by New Zealanders.  And we have a good balance between retail investors who are more likely to hold onto their units, and professional offshore and New Zealand investors who are likely to actively trade units and provide liquidity in the fund.”

- additional reporting by BusinessDesk

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