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Maui gets fruity with Freshmax majority interest

Maui gets fruity with Freshmax majority interest

Maui Capital, a New Zealand private equity group, has bought a majority stake in Australasian fruit and produce company Freshmax.

Maui has taken over Wolseley Private Equity's 60 percent share in Freshmax, which includes group subsidiaries Holman Fresh and De Luca Banana Marketing, and has offered fresh capital that will see Freshmax set up a Californian office to assist with two-way trade between the US and New Zealand. The US exports citrus fruit and grapes into New Zealand in exchange for New Zealand apples, Australian pears and subtropical produce.

Freshmax will carry on with its current management structure, with the exception of the promotion of David Smith to chairman.

“With Maui investment into our group we can again look to significant acquisitions in 2012 to further expand our business profile," Smith said in a statement. 

Paul Chrystall, managing director of Maui, said the fruit and produce industry was undergoing significant change and growth in both Australia and New Zealand.

According to Wolseley, which invested into Freshmax in 2006, its investment has tripled in size thanks to organic growth and the acquisitions of John Holman & Co, Panda Ranch, Oztaste, Grewal and De Luca Banana Marketing in Australia and a joint venture farm with Crasborn Group, a Hawkes Bay summerfruit and pipfruit grower and post-harvest operator in New Zealand. 

“We are very pleased to have been associated with Freshmax during a remarkable growth period,” said Wolseley director Brendan Hill, “Freshmax is the stand-out business in a very attractive investment sector and we wish the management team, grower supply partners and its new investment partner every success for the next stage of their development.”

Freshmax's gross sales are now in excess of AU$365 million ($474 million), making the group one of the largest trans-Tasman fruit and produce businesses.