Fonterra Vote Shapes Future

NEW ZEALAND - In the biggest decision for Fonterra Cooperative shareholders since Fonterra was formed eleven years ago, voting packs that will define its future started arriving in the post yesterday.
calendar icon 1 June 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

“I cannot emphasise how important this vote is,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“It would be incomprehensible to me if any shareholder did not vote. This is our cooperative and whether you are pro, anti or indifferent to Trading Among Farmers (TAF), we’ve got too much tied up in Fonterra to just shrug our shoulders.

“Ever since our Dairy Council in February resolved to ask the Board for a second vote on TAF, it’s no secret Federated Farmers has enjoyed some frank discussions with Fonterra.

“We congratulate the Board for realising a second vote was needed to take the cooperative forward. Being for dairy farmers by dairy farmers, Federated Farmers will continue to ask what needs to be asked.

“The pack itself provides a lot of information so don’t for heaven’s sake chuck it onto the filing pile. Open it and start reading it. Talk to your neighbours, talk to Fonterra, the Shareholder’s council or us. If you have any burning questions ring a Director.

“There will also be something like 50 farmer meetings in the next few weeks so get to one.

“Federated Farmers intends to bookend those meetings with ones of our own involving either Fonterra Directors, Shareholders’ Council members or from Fonterra’s management.

“We want to ensure our members are informed to make the right call but we’d actively encourage all shareholders to club together in groups to discuss and debate what’s now before them.

“When it comes to voting all options are available to us including post, fax or online. You can even appoint a proxy but the key date for any of these options to be exercised, is to have it done or returned by no later than 1030 am on Saturday, 23 June.

“Failing that the only other way to vote will be at one of eight special meeting venues on Monday 25 June at 1030 am.

“I can honestly say the future of Fonterra is totally within our hands,” Mr Leferink concluded.

While the TAF resolution at the special shareholder meeting is an ordinary resolution that requires a 50 per cent plus majority to be passed, Sir Henry says the Board won't be proceeding unless it has a much stronger mandate than that.

"I want a mandate that will unify the Co-operative around this proposed evolution in our capital structure," he said. "This is the final vote in a long process. Shareholders have given us strong support in the earlier stages and that is what the Board is looking for this time.

"TAF offers a means of sustainably protecting 100 per cent farmer control and ownership into the future and reducing risk to our Co-operative, so we're looking for a mandate that enables the Board to continue to work towards protecting and strengthening Fonterra," said Sir Henry.

"We have listened to our farmer shareholders and their key concerns rest on two fundamental points: Preserving 100 per cent control and ownership and the integrity of the Farmgate Milk Price.

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