A leading Queensland racehorse owner has bought into Victorian infant formula manufacturer, Camperdown Dairy International (CDI), after one of its key backers sold his majority share.
Queensland mining magnate Bill McDonald held an 80 per cent share in CDI, which he sold.
Some of those shares have been picked up by Graham Huddy, who owned Shoot Out, a five-time Group One race winner.
Mr Huddy, a former diesel fitter, started off a mining services business in Mount Isa, Queensland, selling it just before the Global Financial Crisis.
He said he had bought into CDI as “an investment”.
“I have known Bill (McDonald) for years, probably the thing was basically something different and there might be a dollar in it,” he said.
He said he grew up on a cattle property, “so it’s not totally new to me.”
“It’s one of those things you just do, Bill has a quarry not far from my place, we had a few beers one day, and I thought, maybe I would support him in that,” he said.
Mr Huddy said it was premature to say what would happen with the company.
“I think it will work out okay, if it goes wrong, it won’t be the first time an investment I have made has gone wrong – but we are hoping it goes the right way, as you do,” he said.
CDI sells infant formula to China, through Great Wall Capital Trading, a Hong Kong based wholesale import and distribution company.
The Victorian dairy company was said to have locked in a deal to export $600 million worth of formula every year for the next 15 years.
Last year, Mr McDonald announced his company the MCG group and CDI had agreed to buy a 3000-hectare property at Neuarpurr on the Victorian–South Australian border and planned to set up cutting-edge large-scale dairy there.
The land was previously owned by horticultural business Tranter International, which set up centre pivot irrigation systems there.
CDI, backed by mining company MCG Group and agricultural investment company EAT group, announced plans to run 3600 dairy cows and produce 40 million litres of milk at the Neuarpurr property.
Mr McDonald said at the time CDI was setting up Australia’s first fully integrated dairy business, milking up to 40,000 cows across a network of farms to supply raw milk to its whole-milk powder and infant formula factory at Camperdown in south-western Victoria.
He said CDI was also in negotiations to buy another five farms, but declined to say where those farms were located.
West Wimmera shire mayor Councillor Bruce Meyer said the all necessary permits had been issued to set up the dairy farm at Neuarpurr.
“They haven’t been keeping us in touch, we’re in the dark,” Cr Meyer said.
“All was in order, but as far as progress, in the last few months, the trail went quiet.
“Initially there was a lot of bravado, they were definitely doing it, and all those sorts of things.”
Mr McDonald’s decision to sell out of CDI had come as a surprise to Cr Meyer.
“The property is still there, I assume they still own it, but there has been no development done,” he said.
It is believed the property is currently being used to grow hay.
CDI general manager Gavin Evans was overseas and unable to be contacted for comment.
By: Andrew Miller