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Wrightson buys vet business in Uruguay

Jane Shanahan

Wednesday 30th July 2008

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PGG Wrightson acquired a controlling stake in a veterinary and rural supplies business, expanding its interests in Uruguay's farming sector.

The New Zealand rural services group bought 51% of Veterinaria Lasplaces, Wrightson said in a statement. The acquisition will lift earnings from Uruguay by 15%, it said. No price was given.

The target company has eight stores and 45 workers in southern Uruguay and links with the National University's veterinary faculty, it said.

Wrightson in 2006 raised funds for subsidiary NZ Farming Systems Uruguay Ltd. to develop dairy farms in the South American nation that emulated New Zealand's intensive farming methods. Shares of Wrightson have soared 45% in the past 12 months while the NZX 50 Index fell 25%. The stock rose 2.3% to $2.70 today.

Prices for farms in some regions of Uruguay have doubled in the past few years and a local farm lobby group has estimated a third of the nation's agricultural land is now owned by foreigners anxious to cash in on soaring prices for food.

Prices for dairy products, which make up a fifth of New Zealand's exports, rose 20 percent in the first three months of the year.

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