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Chinese Company Blocked From $600 Million Deal To Buy Australian Milk Brands

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Chinese Company Blocked From $600 Million Deal To Buy Australian Milk Brands

The Australian government's Foreign Investment Review Board has blocked the sale of drinks company Lion to a Chinese group.

Mengniu Dairy was set to pay a whopping $600 million to takeover Lion Dairy and Drinks, which is currently owned by Japanese company Kirin. The deal was announced in November last year, however required the government's approval.

Lion is in charge of Dairy Farmers, Masters, Pura milk, who produce the likes of Dare and Farmers Union iced coffees, Big M, Vitasoy soy milk and coconut milk; as well as juice companies like Daily Juice, The Juice Brothers and Berri.

The company is also famous for Australian beer brands like Tooheys, James Squire and XXXX.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has revealed the Review Board has decided not to allow the sale to go through. He said the sale would be 'contrary to the national interest'.

Despite that, he added that the decision to pull the pin on the deal was mutual.

Kirin has released a statement, saying it is 'disappointed' that the massive sale couldn't proceed.

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The statement said: "Lion notes that China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited has been awaiting the outcome of the Foreign Investment Review Board review of its proposed purchase of Lion Dairy & Drinks.

"Given this approval is unlikely to be forthcoming at this time, Lion and Mengniu Dairy have mutually agreed to cease the current sale process.

"We are disappointed with this outcome and will now consider pathways forward in relation to the Lion Dairy & Drinks business."

The deal would have actually been a big win for farmers. Mengniu gets some of its milk from dairy processors in New Zealand and Europe, however if the sale was approved then the company would have been able to ramp up its purchases from Australian suppliers.

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Mengni already buys around 825 million 'milk equivalent' litres every year from hundreds of Aussie dairy farmers, according to AAP, as well as 50 million kilograms of fresh fruit.

The potential sale was attacked by some Australian politicians, who called it a 'fire sale of Australian and Australian-based companies to the Chinese'.

The Chinese company hit headlines last year when it announced a $1.5 billion purchase of organic baby formula maker Bellamy's Australia.

Featured Image Credit: Dairy Farmers

Topics: News, Australia

Stewart Perrie
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