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《经济学人》蒙牛吞下两家澳大利亚乳企

2019 年 12 月 08 日 • 经济学人,商业

本期经济学人杂志【商业】板块下这篇题为《Mengniu Dairy gulps down two Australian milk producers》的文章关注的是蒙牛以 15 亿澳元收购澳大利亚“贝拉米”奶粉 10 天后,又宣布以 6 亿澳元收购澳第二大牛奶加工商 Lion Dairy & Drinks。蒙牛希望通过收购提升规模和技术,更好地满足国内日益增长的奶制品需求。

The Economist, December 7th-13th 2019.

蒙牛对贝拉米的收购有一些附加条件,澳大利亚负责外资收购审查的委员会要求蒙牛必须保留澳大利亚总部,董事会的大部分必须是澳大利亚人,并向当地工厂投资 1200 万澳元。

蒙牛的竞争对手、实力稍强的伊利也相继收购了泰国最大的冰激凌生厂商以及一家新西兰奶制品生产合作社。伊利和蒙牛加起来控制着中国一半的乳制品市场。随着蒙牛和伊利向海外和高端市场转移,他们需要更好的奶制品在生产和运输途中的低温技术,这是国外公司可以教给它们的。

国企中粮乳业持有蒙牛 24% 的股份,预计蒙牛将很快解决进口审批延迟问题。中国乳制品市场规模约为 620 亿美元,占全球的市场规模的十分之一。预计到 2022 年,中国将超过美国成为全球最大的乳制品市场。

Mengniu Dairy gulps down two Australian milk producers

Cow cash

Mengniu Dairy gulps down two Australian milk producers

The Chinese giant seeks scale and know-how to meet its country’s growing thirst for the stuff

THIS AUGUST Andrew Cohen, boss of Bellamy’s Organic, an Australian maker of infant formula, enthused to investors about having a brand “that’s loved in China”. So loved, in fact, that a few weeks later Mengniu Dairy, China’s second-biggest producer of milk products, said it wanted to buy Bellamy’s for A$1.5bn ($1bn). On December 5th its shareholders voted in favour of the deal.

At first Bellamy’s seemed to be milking it, not Mengniu. An Australian government committee that reviews foreign acquisitions set out conditions: Mengniu must keep headquarters and most of the board Australian, and pour A$12m into local factories. Mengniu offered a 59% premium on the firm’s share price, which had shed three-fifths in the 18 months before the offer (it has rebounded a bit since). Mr Cohen blamed falling Chinese birth rates, a regulatory hold-up on imports and competition in China’s thirsty infant-formula market.

Now Mengniu looks like the cat that got the cream. It wasted no time in making another bid on November 25th to buy Lion Dairy & Drinks, Australia’s second-largest milk processor, for A$600m. The pair of acquisitions would hand it a rich vat of organic and premium brands that China’s middle class covets, including Farmers Union yogurt and licences to the Yoplait franchise. Mengniu can tap high-quality Aussie milk. And it is one in the eye for Yili, its bigger cross-town dairy rival in Hohhot, the regional capital of Inner Mongolia.

The two firms control about half of China’s dairy market. If it wins Lion, Mengniu stands a chance at surpassing Yili by revenue next year, reckons Song Liang, an independent dairy analyst (both want to make sales of 100bn yuan, or $14bn). They are expanding in South-East Asia, where Bellamy’s and Lion are already popular. Last year Yili acquired Thailand’s biggest ice-cream maker. In August it bought Westland Milk Products, a New Zealand co-operative. It envisions “a vast dairy bridge crossing the Pacific Ocean”.

In a decade Chinese milk production will meet only half of domestic demand, says Terrance Liu of CLSA, a broker, down from around 70% today. And, as Mengniu and its rival move overseas and upmarket, they need better ways to keep products chilled through production and transport, which rich-world firms can teach them. At home spending on formula per infant is rising thanks to declining rates of breast-feeding in many cities. A deadly tainted-milk scandal in 2008 has put shoppers off local products. CLSA estimates that four-fifths of Bellamy’s products have ended up in China thanks to a flourishing informal trade by so-called daigou, who buy products overseas and resell them online.

New regulations have recently crimped grey-market sales. But Mengniu is expected to work out the import-clearance delay promptly: COFCO Dairy, a state-owned giant, owns 24% of the Hong Kong-listed firm. China’s $62bn dairy market is still little more than a tenth of the world’s by value. But Euromonitor, a research firm, predicts that by 2022 it will overtake America as the globe’s biggest market for dairy. Welcome to the land of milk and money.■

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline"Cow cash"

Print edition | Business
Dec 7th 2019 | SHANGHAI

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