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Blue Sky Meats acquires Clover Export

Blue Sky Meats acquires Clover Export, adding beef, venison processing

By Jonathan Underhill

Dec. 4 (BusinessDesk) - Blue Sky Meats, whose shares trade on the Unlisted platform, has agreed to acquire Gore-based Clover Export, adding processing capacity in beef and venison to the range of services it can offer to sheep and bobby calf customers, while attracting new suppliers.

No price was disclosed for the transaction. Chairman Graham Cooney said Clover is about 10-15 percent of the size of Blue Sky in terms of turnover. Blue Sky's revenue was $95.3 million in its 2014 year. More details may be given in the company's annual report after its March 31, 2015, balance date.

Clover's owners include European shareholders and, as part of the deal, Blue Sky has agreed to continue with Clover's horse meat processing on a toll basis for sale into the European market. Horse meat will be a small ongoing business, amounting to about "a day a month," Cooney said.

"This acquisition allows us to process all species for our clients," he said. Buying Clover soaked up existing processing capacity in the New Zealand market and was a better option than building more, he said.

"This purchase effectively removes an export license holder out of the New Zealand processing scene and therefore assists industry rationalisation," he said.

Invercargill-based Blue Sky ended talks with meat cooperative Alliance Group at the end of 2013 for a possible merger.

In April, two Chinese businessmen based in Auckland bought 11 percent of the company for $2.33 million, or $1.80 a share in an off market share transfer to become the third-biggest shareholder after Lowe Corp and HW Richardson Group. One of the investors, Cook Huang, has a business that exports New Zealand red meat, spring water, juice and chocolate to China.

Blue Sky shares last traded on Nov. 28 at $1.80 and have gained from $1.20 in the middle of the year.

(BusinessDesk)

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