Simon Couper, resigned as chair of Fonterra’s Shareholders’ Council over the Trading Among Farmers proposal:
Couper’s resignation followed a majority vote by the council in support of the TAF proposal, a view which clashed with his own and made his position untenable, he told BusinessDesk.
“I respect the council’s decision,” he said, but was not personally convinced that the scheme would meet the bottom line objective of securing 100 percent ongoing farmer ownership of Fonterra in perpetuity.
“One hundred percent is 100 percent and in my view, we didn’t get there,” he said, after the council completed a due diligence process on the detail of the TAF scheme, which will go to a special shareholders’ vote on June 25.
Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden said Couper has done the right thing by the co-operative:
The situation was “not ideal”, van der Heyden told BusinessDesk. “But hey, I’m delighted about where the Shareholders Council got to”, with replacement chairman Ian Brown reporting “a very strong” mandate from the rest of the council.
“I don’t know exactly what the number are, but north of 80 percent,” he said.
The numbers are important because at least some of the votes at a special shareholders’ meeting on June 25 to approve TAF will require 75 percent majority support and involve constitutional change. . .
Couper’s resignation notwithstanding, the Shareholders’ Council’s support of the proposal makes it much more likely farmers will support TAF.
The proposal is contentious and is not without risk.
But there is a greater risk to the company in doing nothing about the threat which could come if too many farmers redeem their shares.