Wrightson taps Livestock Improvement’s Dewdney as CEO, replacing Gould

Livestock Improvement Corp, which helped China’s Agria take control of PGG Wrightson in 2011 with a $10 million loan, is now providing its chief executive to run the New Zealand rural services company.

Wrightson today named LIC’s Mark Dewdney as chief executive after George Gould resigned. He will take up the position starting on July 1. He ran LIC, a bull semen and dairy genetics company, for seven years.

LIC granted Agria an extension on repayment of the loan as the Chinese company struggled to tie up financing the $144 million partial takeover of Wrightson. Agria now owns 50.1 percent of Wrightson.

In April 2011, Dewdney said LIC made the loan because it had a strategic interest “in supporting the PGGW AgriTech businesses – Seeds, AgriFeeds, and Grain.” It had no interest in making a direct investment in Wrightson and the loan was on commercial terms.

LIC may be interested in investing directly in the AgriTech business if the opportunity arose and saw potential to distribute LIC’s dairy genetics into China through a partnership with Agria and fellow Wrightson investor New Hope, he said at the time.

Dewdney announced his departure from LIC in December last year, saying at the time that he was “keen to fulfil his long held goal to be a ‘hands on’ dairy farmer and wishes to couple this with expanding his professional director roles.” In April, LIC named Ministry of Primary Industries director-general Wayne McNee as its new CEO.

Shares of Wrightson have declined 36 percent this year and were last at 28 cents. It is rated a ‘buy’ based on a Reuters poll of five analysts, with a median price target of 41 cents.

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