Mysterious would-be dairy farmer Pacific Dairies has just released its first significant announcement in many moons — it wants to become an “integrated emerging regional dairy group”.

Pacific Dairies (ASX:PDF) has been in trading suspension for more than two-and-a-half years amid continued promises that it would move away from meat production and become a dairy farmer.

But it has struggled for funding, with its “prime focus of the company” having been to find someone who wants to finance its bid to buy five dairy farms in the fertile Riverina.

But at 4pm on Tuesday the company announced a new strategy to create a regional integrated dairy group across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

That’s based on two new deals, one in which Pacific invests $5 million in a Fijian joint venture, the other a merger, via a cash investment and share swap, with New Zealand Dairy Products.

Paul Duckett, Pacific’s chairman, was buoyant, though cautious, pointing out due diligence had yet to take place.

“These transactions taken together will position the company with farm operations and processing of cow, sheep and goat’s milk and downstream dairy products and deliver significant intellectual property covering value-added products that include fresh and long-life milk, flavoured milk drinks and yoghurt, cheese and ghee,” he said.

“The transactions are all subject to ongoing due diligence that is to be to the mutual satisfaction of the counterparties.”

Where’s the money?

And as for that pesky funding issue, PDF said it has appointed BlueMount Capital as financial advisors with the hope that the company will resume listing on the ASX next year.

“PDF and its advisors will work together to appoint a broker to the IPO to work with BlueMount Capital,” it said. “The company will be looking to raise a minimum of $20m with the re-listing. The financing may be a mixture of equity, debt and structured finance.”

And if that is not quite enough to entice investors new and old, Pacific said it is “actively looking for other dairy companies to include in its aggregation plans as part of a broader regional strategy that may include established Asian dairy companies”.

Dairy farm all dried up

Pacific Dairies previously blamed “negative press articles”, the Murray Goulburn “debacle” hurting investor sentiment, and lower farm gate milk prices for its failure to find that money so far.

In the 2018 financial report, Pacific Dairy said “thankfully the underlying value of our project has held up and we are hopeful to complete the debt funding during the first half of the 2018/2019 year”.

That was almost word for word what the company said in its only market update in November last year — except then it was predicting to have that debt funding wrapped up by the end of March.