Suppliers vent feelings at roadshow

By Dairy News

Murray Goulburn chair, John Spark, and new buyer, Saputo CEO Lina Saputo Jnr, are learning exactly how suppliers feel about the sale of their co-operative through a series of roadshows being held in major dairy areas.

Suppliers have had time to digest the news that their co-operative will be sold, having first learnt on the morning of the AGM on October 27 that it had been all but sold.

News has broken since that the Saputo bid was not the highest financial offer. MG has said it was the board’s unanimous view that “the Saputo transaction represented the best outcome for its suppliers and investors”.

Many suppliers believed any sale would require 90 per cent approval from shareholders. However, it was revealed that under the constitution the board could sell all assets without any supplier approval.

Mr Spark said this would have been “abhorrent” and the board will require a majority approval at an early meeting to be held next year. The round of meetings is to provide further information to suppliers, as well as to receive frank advice.

Northern Victorian dairy farmer Di Bowles was one of many Murray Goulburn suppliers disappointed at how news of the sale was delivered.

“I was very unimpressed as I heard it on the way to the AGM. It was very disappointing the way suppliers had it communicated to them,” she said.

Mrs Bowles said she was also concerned with how only a 50 per cent vote was needed for the takeover to be successful.

“It’s disappointing that it’s 50 per cent and not 90 per cent. It wouldn’t have passed. At the moment it’s borderline.”

Mrs Bowles said she was looking forward to seeing how Saputo presented itself in the near future.

“It will be interesting to see how they present themselves in upcoming meetings we have with them,” she said.

“Sadly it will probably get over the line but hopefully shareholders raise concerns.

“(If successful) it will have implications for the whole dairy industry, not just Murray Goulburn suppliers.”

Mrs Bowles said she was also annoyed at the fact wet and dry shareholders were going to be paid the same.

“The 75 cent share for wet or dry shareholders is pretty annoying.

“I think that’s unfair when we had been encouraged by the chair and the board to stay because our shares would be worth more as wet shares.”

Despite all of her concerns, Mrs Bowles said she would not turn away the proposed price step-up.

“It’s really nice, I’m not going to say no to extra money and it will make us on par with others.”