SAS Group > Case Studies

Yili Group

THE CHALLENGE

China-based Yili Group turned to the SAS Group in March 2019 when the global food giant was seeking to acquire a major New Zealand dairy co-operative. Yili’s purchase of Westland Dairy Company Limited on New Zealand’s West Coast of the South Island needed to navigate a highly regulated transaction process made more complex by widespread political, community and industry opposition to the sale, not to mention language and cultural barriers.

THE RESPONSE

The SAS Group was able to help Yili make informed decisions through each step of the acquisition process in an often heated and emotionally charged environment. We provided government relations and media and communications advice and support to showcase Yili as a responsible investor keen to protect the integrity and financial viability of a vital part of the West Coast economy. Given the strict acquisition procedures surrounding foreign investment and corporate acquisitions, the SAS Group helped Yili manage a tight regulatory environment while ensuring its message to Westland’s stakeholders was heard.

THE OUTCOME

Despite high-profile opposition, the sale was overwhelmingly supported by Westland’s dairy farmers as well as being approved by New Zealand’s overseas investment review process and the High Court.

The transaction gives Yili access to milk supply and production large enough to create a high-end New Zealand-based brand selling direct to discerning consumers globally.

“Yili’s satisfaction is measured in our ongoing relationship with the SAS Group. Our work together now seeks to ensure that the wider New Zealand community – as well as global audiences – have a strong understanding of Yili’s respect for the proud dairying traditions of the West Coast and the many opportunities that this valued partnership in New Zealand can bring.’’

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