LEETON'S Berri factory will change hands once again after Lion Dairy and Drinks sold that part of its business to Bega Cheese Limited.
The Leeton factory and staff had been working under the Lion banner for some years now, with the business changing ownership several times in its history.
Kirin Holdings and Lion announced the agreement to sell the Dairy and Drinks business to Bega Cheese Limited for $560 million.
The sale is unconditional, including no further regulatory approvals required and is expected to be completed in early 2021.
When Bega Cheese' takeover of Lion Dairy and Drinks is completed its milk processing business will grow from four to 15 dairy factories, plus two juice plants, and joint venture ownership of one of Australia's big name plant "milk" facilities.
Lion has dairy plants in North Queensland and Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Morwell in Victoria, and Penrith and Wetherill Park in outer Sydney.
It is also the majority partner in a joint venture with Bega - Canberra's Capitol Chilled Foods - and has a half share with Hong Kong partner Vitasoy International in the Vitasoy plant-based beverage facility in Wodonga on the NSW-Victorian border.
On the fruit juice front, Lion owns the Berri, Daily Juice and Juice Brothers brands, processed in Leeton and Smithfield in Sydney where Zooper Dooper freezable flavoured ice blocks are also made.
Lion chief executive officer Stuart Irvine said the sale will see Bega, as an established dairy and food company with more than 120 years of heritage, "well placed to drive the business forward given its deep dairy capabilities and strong commitment to iconic Australian brands".
The news comes after Lion Dairy and Drinks Pty Ltd and China's Mengniu Dairy Company Ltd agreed to not proceed with a sale of this part of the company in August.