Trading Among Farmers Not to Raise Capital

NEW ZEALAND - Cash invested in buying units in the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund will go to farmers selling the economic rights of their shares - not Fonterra, says Chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden.
calendar icon 19 June 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

"During the recent farmer meetings, it has been suggested that the purpose of Trading Among Farmers (TAF) is to raise capital.

"While debate on TAF is welcome, the misconception that TAF allows new or outside capital into the Co-op needs to be laid to rest," he said.

"All our capital will continue to come from our supplying shareholders based on milk supplied. TAF enshrines this principle."

Sir Henry said that the purpose of TAF was not to obtain new capital, but simply to remove redemption risk from the Co-operative.

"Removing redemption risk has the added benefit of creating permanent capital on Fonterra's balance sheet, but it's not new capital and certainly no new capital is coming from outside investors."

He said that the new Fonterra Shareholders' Fund allowing investors to buy units linked to the performance of Fonterra's shares would not provide capital for the Co-operative.

"That capital will go to farmers selling economic rights of those shares to the Fund," he said. "It's unlocking new capital for farmers - not for Fonterra - and farmers can choose to use it or not as they see fit."

"The Fund is simply to ensure sufficient liquidity in the Fonterra Shareholders' Market in which farmer shareholders - and farmer shareholders alone - can trade their shares," said Sir Henry. "Non-farmer capital invested in the Fund - which is separated by a firewall from Fonterra - is not part of Fonterra's capital structure.

"Investors in the Fund are putting no money into Fonterra, nor do they obtain any voting rights or control over Fonterra shares," he said.

Sir Henry said that the Co-operative's earlier capital structure debate, some five years ago had sent a clear signal to the Board that farmers wanted to ensure capital in the Co-op remained tied to milk supplied, and that farmers did not want outside capital injected into the business.

"This is precisely what TAF enables," he said. "It's a strengthening of our traditional capital structure.

"We're fortunate that growth in milk supply and retentions gives us sufficient capital growth as a business, and that's the way it will stay," he said.

Sir Henry said that farmer meetings around the country to discuss TAF had been well-attended and he was pleased with the level of debate and engagement.

TAF was an important step for the Co-operative and it was important that decisions made by farmers were based on accurate information and not misconceptions, he said.

"It's why we've provided as much information as we can about the TAF proposal and the findings of our due diligence advisors," he said.

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