Dalgety plc

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Dalgety plc
Industry Conglomerate
Fate Acquired
Successors Genus plc
Founded 1846
Defunct 2005
Headquarters London, UK
Key people Sir Denys Henderson (Chairman)
Richard Clothier (CEO)

Dalgety plc was a major British conglomerate. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


The Company was established by Frederick Dalgety, a Scotsman, in Melbourne in 1846, outfitting sheep ranchers.[1]

In December 1842 Frederick Dalgety arrived in Melbourne, which had only recently been established, as manager of a new firm which he soon bought and by 1848 was an independent and well-to-do merchant, concentrating on 'the settlers' trade', providing merchandise for the squatters and buying their produce. He visited England in 1849 to strengthen his facilities for credit and the disposal of colonial produce and returned to Victoria in 1851. In the gold rush Dalgety continued with general business, enlarged his pastoral trade, sold merchandise to the diggers and bought much gold from them;[1] in 1851-55 he made about £150,000 from his gold speculations alone.

In 1854 Dalgety moved to London to establish the headquarters of a metropolitan-colonial enterprise dealing mainly with the Victorian pastoral industry. He took with him as London partner Frederick Du Croz, and left C. Ibbotson as a colonial manager-partner in Geelong; he returned to Victoria in 1857 to establish James Blackwood as another manager-partner in Melbourne. He lived permanently in England.[1]

In the 1850s Australian stores like Buckley & Nunn in Melbourne imported most of the goods sold in their stores through Dalgety's firms.

This building was used to house the company's manager in Port Hedland, Western Australia, between 1903 and 1974. It is now the town's museum.

In 1884, because of advancing age, the increasing demand for capital and competition from joint-stock companies and banks, he was forced to incorporate his private partnerships as a joint-stock company, called Dalgety & Co Ltd, and registered in London on 29 April 1884.[2] It was listed on the London Stock Exchange. By that time it had operations in London, Melbourne, Geelong, Launceston, Dunedin, Christchurch and Sydney.[1]

In the next three years Dalgety branches were opened in Queensland and Western Australia, and the properties and assets of the company increased by 50 per cent. Dalgety continued in active management as largest shareholder and chairman of directors until his death in 1894. Dalgety & Co. continued to grow after its founder died. In July 1898, the company signed an agreement with the Russian consul in Melbourne for the use of Russian ships to transport wool from Australia to Europe.[3]

Dalgety & Co Ltd merged with the New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency Co. Ltd[1] in November 1961 to form Dalgety & New Zealand Loan Ltd (UK) (DNZL).[2] On 1 September 1961 Dalgety & Co Ltd was delisted from ASX.[4] With assets of £44 million in 1963 the merged entity was the largest pastoral combine operating in Australasia.[1]

The Company expanded into North America in 1966 acquiring Balfour Guthrie, a lumber and poultry business, and in 1970 it acquired the UK-based Pig Improvement Company.

In 1979 it diversified into foods acquiring Spillers,[5] a flour milling and pet food business, following a hostile take-over battle, and in 1987 it bought Golden Wonder, potato crisp manufacturers.[6] Then in 1995 it bought Felix Pet Foods.[7]

In the late 1990s, following a BSE crisis in the UK, it entered into a series of disposals and sold Golden Wonder to the management in 1995,[6] its food ingredients and Spillers flour milling operations to Kerry Group plc in 1997[8] and its pet foods business to Nestlé in 1997.[9] In Australia, in 1993, Dalgety Farmers Ltd became LFD Ltd a wholly owned subsidiary of ANZ Banking Group and Dalgety’s pastoral interests were sold to Wesfarmers.[2]

Demise of the business[edit]

The company was renamed PIC International Group plc in 1998[10] and then Sygen International plc in 2001.[11] By that time the main asset left in the company was its investment in Pig Improvement Company. Genus plc bought what was left of the company in 2005.[12]