On September 20, the New Zealand parliament passed a law allowing the merger of the country's two major dairy processing companies and their export wing into an NZ$11bn (Euro 4.836bn) cooperative. New Zealand's Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said in a statement that passage of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill was the last legislative hurdle to the formation of the new company, Fonterra Cooperative Dairies. "While this legislation was unresolved, the industry in many ways had been in a state of suspense, and did not have complete credibility in the market place," Mr. Sutton said. Fonterra, which has 20 working days to merge but is aiming for a deadline of October 1, will operate in 120 countries, employ 20,000 people, earn more than 20 per cent of New Zealand's export receipts and generate seven per cent of GDP. Passage of the government-backed legislation was backed by all seven parties in the single chamber 120-seat NZ Parliament. The merged company is designed to build up scale on major world competitors such as Kraft Foods, a unit of Philip Morris, Nestle AG and Italy's Parmalat. The new company will also have interests in the Australian dairy sector, including an 18 per cent holding in National Foods, a quarter share of Bonlac Foods, and 80 per cent of West Australian food company Peters & Brownes.