Mossman Mill a hurdle for German manufacturing Mackay Sugar bid

BIG BUSINESS

Howard Salkow

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The troubled Mossman sugar mill could hold the key to its owner, Mackay Sugar, selling a 70 per cent stake to German sugar co-operative Nordzucker for $120 million.

In an exclusive in yesterday’s Business Review of The Australian, it was reported that three of the country’s biggest mills (Marian, Farleigh and Racecourse mills) could be in German hands if the deal is successful. Mackay Sugar also owns Pleystowe mill. 


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According to The Australian report, for the deal to be successful, some of the arrangements include Mackay Sugar disposing of the Mossman Mill and their major financiers agreeing to a restructuring of its $200 million debt.

The sale of the Mossman Mill could be the major hurdle for Mackay Sugar, who has threatened to shut it down.

Far Northern Milling, who made a ‘conditional purchase’ of the mill from Mackay Sugar, is waiting on federal ($20m) and state ($25m) government funding to complete the purchase.

This will not only secure the mill’s future, but also allow them to meet the terms of their ‘conditional purchase’.

Conditions include due diligence, finance, cane supply and environmental conditions.

Mossman Canegrowers, Tableland Canegrowers and Australian Cane Farmers Association comprise Far Northern Milling.

But none of the levels of government have provided any indication when they will release the funds. The state government said they would do so when the federal government met their commitment.

The government funding is not only important for the future of the town, for jobs, but equally important to re-position the ageing mill as a biotechnology leader.

“It is about developing a state-of-the-art processing facility which will produce sustainable environmental friendly products, and a bio-precinct that will attract more people and businesses to the area,” Maryann Salvetti, Chairperson of Canegrowers Tableland has said.

“It will create new jobs, secure existing employment, support growth and development, and put an end to the uncertainty which has surrounded the sugar industry in Mossman for some time.”

It is believed the Mackay board has unanimously recommended the Nordzucker proposal to its growers.

Nordzucker AG, headquartered in Braunschweig, Germany, is Europe’s second largest sugar manufacturer.

The production of sugar, liquid sugars and other specialities for the application in the nutrition, beverage and sweets industry as well as other sugar specialities like refined sugar, icing sugar, lump sugar, preserving sugar, tea sugars and flavoured sugars for consumers, are the core business of the company.

 

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