New Zealand's Fonterra raises stake in Chilean milk processor Prolesur

FILE PHOTO: The Fonterra logo is seen near the Fonterra Te Rapa plant near Hamilton August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Nigel Marple/File Photo

(Reuters) - New Zealand's Fonterra FCG.NZ said on Thursday it bought an additional 13.6% stake in Chile-based milk processor Prolesur for NZ$29.3 million ($18.8 million), as the dairy giant streamlines operations in the South American nation.

With the latest purchase, Fonterra has raised its interest in Prolesur to 99.9%, the world’s largest dairy exporter said.

Prolesur sells most of its production to Soprole, a branded dairy company in Chile, which is 99.9% owned by Fonterra.

Kelvin Wickham, Fonterra’s chief executive officer for Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North Asia and the Americas (AMENA), said the move would help Fonterra to integrate the Prolesur and Soprole businesses.

Soprole, a market leader in Chile, is Fonterra’s oldest offshore investment.

The streamlining comes at a time when Fonterra has halted an ambitious and ill-fated overseas expansion and announced plans to phase out overseas milk production centers, after it reported a record annual loss in September.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel