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Australia’s Perpetual swoops on beat-up Fonterra units

Australia’s Perpetual swoops on Fonterra in wake of food scare by buying units

By Paul McBeth

Aug 8 (BusinessDesk) - ASX-listed fund manager Perpetual has used Fonterra Cooperative Group’s food scare to trawl for cheap units in the dairy exporter’s listed fund.

Funds managed by Perpetual bought about 1.26 million units, or 1.17 percent, of Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund for some A$7.32 million on Aug. 5, when the price plunged in the first trading day after the dairy company said some of its product may have been tainted by bacteria that can cause botulism.

The average purchase price was just under A$5.83 per unit, and takes Perpetual’s stake in the fund to almost 10 percent, according to a substantial shareholder notice filed with the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges.

The Fonterra fund’s price has recovered since the dive, closing on the ASX yesterday at A$6.20, meaning Perpetual’s bottom-trawling has already achieved an unrealised gain of some A$470,000, or about 6.4 percent.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings yesterday told media all potentially contaminated whey protein product has been accounted for, and he was satisfied the food scare had stabilised.

The dairy group’s GlobalDairyTrade auction yesterday showed the average price of dairy products fell 2.4 percent on a trade-weighted basis, though a record 60,587 tonnes was sold for some US$293.7 million.

Perpetual has some A$25.3 billion under management as at June 30, according to a stock exchange filing last month. Its shares fell 3.6 percent to A$38.78 on the ASX yesterday, having gained about 12 percent this year.


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