Fonterra fall-guy Gary Romano joins Shanghai Pengxin

The Fonterra manager who took the rap for the botulism scare joins Chinese company. His ex employer claims it supports the move.

Fonterra is supportive of its former NZ Milk Products manager Gary Romano joining Shanghai Pengxin.

We are happy for him. I think as an ex-employee of Fonterra he will add value and we wish him all the best of success in that new environment,” Fonterra chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini says.

Mr Romano resigned from Fonterra Cooperative Group last year during the botulism scare, and will now oversee the Chinese company's overseas operations including its New Zealand farms, the NZ Herald reports.

Romano's Linked In profile says he is "currently on the beach before becoming active again in 2014." He resigned as head of NZ Milk Products at Fonterra last August as the company embarked on a global recall of whey protein concentrate. The bacterium was eventually shown to be harmless.

He will become chief executive of NZ Milk Management and a director of Pengxin's two farm groups in the North Island and South Island, according to the Herald. Terry Lee, managing director of Pengxin's Milk New Zealand unit, didn't immediately return calls.

Lee's own role has been expanded, the report says, to president of overseas M&A for Pengxin Group

Pengxin acquired the 16 Crafar dairy farms after a controversial sales process and owns 74 percent of Synlait Farm Holdings. Its overseas interests include farms in South America and copper mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it is exploring investment opportunities in Australia, South Africa, Cambodia, Argentina and Brazil, according to the Herald.

Pengxin executives met Prime Minister John key during his recent visit to China and wanted to know why it had been restricted from owning New Zealand dairy processing plants outright as other Chinese companies had been allowed to do, the report said.

(BusinessDesk)

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