National Party President selling out?

Written By: - Date published: 12:09 pm, May 12th, 2016 - 14 comments
Categories: capitalism, national - Tags: , , , ,

Peter Goodfellow

Peter Goodfellow

National Party President Peter Goodfellow, may be selling out of Sanford Ltd, the giant, family-controlled fishing company, flicking a good chunk of his holding to Japan’s biggest seafood company, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review on Monday.

Veteran New Zealand journalist Mike Field, who has recently published The Catch: How Fishing Companies Reinvented Slavery and Plunder the Oceans,  exposing slave working conditions and fishing practices on foreign charter vessels in NZ waters, reported that Goodfellow, a scion of one of New Zealand’s wealthiest families, requested Maruha Nichiro to buy a 4.7% stake.

The $25 million deal prompted considerable curiosity because it involved an off-market purchase of shares from Sanford’s second biggest shareholder, Avalon Investment Trust, which is run by the family of Peter Goodfellow, Field wrote.

Avalon retains a 9.2% holding. The largest shareholder, Amalgamated Dairies, with around a third of the company, is also a company controlled by the Goodfellow family, which is credited with setting up the entity that today is known as Fonterra.

Also within their near billion dollars asset pile is a big chunk of formerly New Zealand, but now Australian, agro-chemicals company, Nufarm, which recently closed factories in New Zealand.

The Australian Financial Review in March reported that Nufarm was the subject of Chinese takeover speculation after the chairman of one of China’s biggest glyphosate producers, Zhang Hua, informed the Australian Securities Exchange he, and British Virgin Island companies he controls, had bought a 5% stake.  The Sanford move comes just ahead of woefully belated radical changes aimed at forcing international fishing boats to end controversial employment practices, forced on a reluctant government thanks to pressure put on by academics and journalists, such as Field.

The shakeup will end foreign charter vessel fishing in our 4 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone.

Charter vessels took 42% of the national catch between 1950 and 2010 but Field says the industry is uneasy about a soon-to-be-released academic study showing that the total catch of fish over 61 years was 2.1 times greater than was reported.

“Industry insiders believe the report, compiled by experts from three major universities as part of a global study on fisheries, will lead to a radical overhaul of New Zealand’s fish quota system, including substantial cuts in the quotas awarded to fishing companies, which determine how many fish they can catch,” the Nikkei report says.

Maruha has a long record of involvement in New Zealand waters, but it had no equity stake in the domestic industry until purchasing the stake in Sanford, which has a market capitalization of $543 million.

The sale, at a small discount of $5.68 per share against the current price of $5.73, is all the more perplexing because Sanford, which has had a number of lean years due to the crazily high New Zealand dollar value, is poised to benefit from a series of “tailwinds” according to market analysts.

The prospects for the first half of this financial year and for the full year are “very positive”, according First NZ Capital’s Sanford analyst, Kar Yue Yeo.

“Buoyed by a more favourable NZD/USD and lower fuel prices, our expectation is for Sanford to deliver an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $38 million.”

That would be up 12% on the 2015 year and the highest since 2009, Yeo says.

“As a major aquaculture operator and owner of fish quota in NZ, Sanford is a beneficiary of on-going growth in global demand for protein and potential increase in seafood prices.”

Maruha Nichiro told Field it had no strategic reason for taking a Sanford shareholding and said it had no intention to increase its stake and “no political motives, such as expanding fishing rights” in taking a share.

Sanford said that while the company had enjoyed a “business relationship … with Maruha Nichiro over many years” the request for the Japanese company to buy shares “came from a shareholder” and not from Sanford. The Goodfellow family did not respond to a request for comment.

Glenn Simmon, a research fellow at Auckland University’s New Zealand/Asia Institute who is an expert on New Zealand’s fishing industry, said it was difficult to know what objectives Sanford and Maruha were pursuing. “The ownership of the fishing industry is hugely complex and nothing is as it seems,” he said. “We can only wait and see what happens.”

Sanford in its annual report said it had 49 vessels and 210 aquaculture farms for mussels and salmon. It holds 23% of the total New Zealand fishing quota.

Field’s book, published in 2014, was the result of years of study documenting the “slaves” who work in inhumane conditions for virtually no money for companies that send them out in re-named, re-flagged rust-buckets to, as the subtitle puts it, to “plunder the oceans”.

New Zealand was shown in the book to have been a major enabler of slavery at sea by allowing foreign vessels that didn’t have to comply with our labour and safety laws to fish domestic quota.

The complicity of the government in this is similar to the current Panama Papers scandal that has exposed how New Zealand foreign trusts are allowed to base here with no obligation to pay tax on offshore earnings. Indeed it would be no surprise to find the foreign fishing companies making use of this rort as well.

(Simon Louisson formerly worked for The Wall Street Journal, NZPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and was most recently a political and media adviser to the Green Party)


14 comments on “National Party President selling out?”

  1. save nz 1


    Interesting that Nufarm has been sold to Australia – NZ companies being hocked off before our eyes and our NZ companies being closed without anyone noticing.

    No wonder governments like to concentrate on taxing the middle class, the billionaires related to government are just getting a free ride and richer and richer, taking more NZ companies off shore and makes the National party NZ tax haven status make sense now.

  2. MikeG 2

    I don’t understand this sentence:
    “The largest shareholder, Amalgamated Dairies, with around a third of the company, is also a company controlled by the Goodfellow family, which is credited with setting up the entity that today is known as Fonterra.”

    Wasn’t Fonterra created by merging Kiwi Dairy, NZ Dairy Group and NZ Dairy Board?

    • Frank Stark 2.1

      This from NBR’s Rich List on the Goodfellows:
      The Goodfellow family has been credited with pretty much kick-starting the New Zealand dairy industry as we know it – launching the cooperative model that is the basis of this country’s biggest company, Fonterra. It started under Sir William Goodfellow’s charge, then passed into the hands of his son, Douglas, who diversified family interests into fishing, food, finance, property, clothing and engineering. Following Douglas’s death, at age 97, last year – the mantle passes to his sons: Bruce Goodfellow and National Party president Peter Goodfellow.

    • Ian 2.2

      Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good smear.

  3. adam 3

    And this is just one of the reasons that the labour movement had a international out look. The Tory capitalist classes do, we should too.

    Once again thanks for a great piece Simon.

    • Chooky 3.1


    • RedLogix 3.2

      And this is just one of the reasons that the labour movement had a international out look.

      And the capitalists rushed to fill the vacuum we left.

      Another highly polished and professional contribution from Simon. We’re damned lucky to have someone of his calibre.

  4. NZJester 4

    Ways to make money from New Zealand.
    Step 1: Buy New Zealand company with a good reputation that is lacking a bit of cash.
    Step 2: Slowly start using the brand on cheaper made goods produced outside New Zealand.
    Step 3: Run the New Zealand plants into the ground with lack of proper maintenance.
    Step 4: Close the factory once it becomes to costly to repair, knowing a new Zealand company will not simply be able to buy it and start using it to compete with them.
    Step 5: Move all the brands out of New Zealand to countries with even cheaper labor and keep profiting from the good reputation of the product brand name that New Zealand spend years building up.

    The onshore part of the fishing industry has also been rundown and most of the fish just go directly out of our water without even coming to shore and value being added to them by processing.

    • save nz 4.1

      +1 NZJester

      Step 6, have faulty non New Zealand products wearing the NZ name and destroy the brand name of NZ as being good reputation with high standards.
      Step 7, Further destroy NZ brand for producers still producing in NZ so they go under.
      Step 8, Bring in TPPA and not be allowed to label country of origin and take the lowest global standard as the standard to meet. Big companies sue governments and small companies can’t compete with the complexity of global rules and larger companies buying up the country and companies to asset strip them.
      Step 9, The lowest global standard prosper as they have nobbled the higher standards companies and choices and brands for consumers. The race to the bottom has ended and the .1% own everything and consumers just have a monoculture of choices.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    “Captain, captain. What’ll you give me,
    If I do sink the Sanford Reverie,
    If I sink her in the low down, lonesome lowdown,
    Sink her in the low down lonesome low.”

    • Andrea 5.1

      For Stuart: Absolute grief in the courts on any charge that has less adhesive than a sticky note, until your family is broken, you’re bankrupt, [RL: Deleted. Banned for one week], your name is mud and even WINZ won’t give you a pittance.

      ‘Bring it on…’

      • Stuart Munro 5.1.1

        Your comment is pretty incoherent, but for the record I was in deepsea fishing. My life was ruined and there is absolutely nothing left you can do to me. But Sanford were not implicated in my professional demise – they are merely a parallel pool of extreme scumbaggery.

        1% of Japan’s fishery returns and employment – and clowns like these are the reason why.

  6. Brian 6

    Yeah, their pretty guilty. Especially after the most recent court case.

  7. Brian 7

    Remember that a big slavery case – or case for unpaid wages – has now been one.

    And Sanford and very, very much complicit:

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