Shareholders back SFF

Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders have backed the board in its plan to enter into partnership with Shanghai Maling:

A strong majority of 80.4% of votes in favour of the 50/50 partnership with Shanghai Maling reinforced Silver Fern Farms Board’s position that the partnership is in the best interests of shareholders and the Co-operative.

The resounding support from shareholders came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by Messrs John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who supported a statement stating they wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms.

The 80.4% of shareholders’ votes in support of the partnership follows the result of the October 2015 vote, where 82% of votes cast supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the Requisitioners. Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders remained overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership.

“While the Board has clearly stated its view that the outcome of this meeting could not bind the company given the valid and binding approval last October, it is pleasing to see shareholders reaffirm their support and maintain their confidence in this exciting opportunity to create a sustainable Silver Fern Farms,” Mr Hewett said.

Mr Hewett said the partnership would create a strong Silver Fern Farms.

“This partnership will enable us to generate higher, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

“Shareholders have again made it clear they want progress for their company. They want meaningful change and are genuinely excited about the prospects presented through this significant investment and partnership with Shanghai Maling.

“The Board has strongly disagreed with the negative stance on the transaction taken by Messrs Shrimpton and Gallagher. They have caused significant disruption and their actions have been damaging to the company. Their allegations have proven to be entirely unfounded. Independent reviews by both the Financial Markets Authority and the Registrar of Companies have found no issue with the information provided to shareholders in October 2015 or the actions of the Directors.

Chief Executive Dean Hamilton said the process to complete the transaction had continued with all outstanding information now with the Overseas Investment Office for its consideration.

“We remain confident that we will achieve OIO approval prior to 30 September, and proceed to complete the transaction by 4 January 2017 as previously announced.

“The clear message from the voters is to get on with it, and realise this opportunity ahead of us.”

2610 shareholders voted representing 62.15% of eligible votes.

John Shrimpton says he accepts that shareholders have spoken.

New Zealand First which has also been a very vocal opponent of the plan continues to show it doesn’t understand the issue:

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says. . . 

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap. . . 

This was a matter for shareholders not politicians.

SFF needs a large investment if it is to survive. Shareholders weren’t prepared to invest more and the company wasn’t able to get other investment from within New Zealand.

If the partnership doesn’t go ahead the company has no future, and even if it does get OIO approval, SFF has a lot of work ahead of it.

The deal leaves Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industries, farmers who prefer that model can choose to support that company.

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