Silver Fern Farms members vote in favour of Shangai Maling deal

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

The venture could be a major boon for the sale of New Zealand meat in China
The venture could be a major boon for the sale of New Zealand meat in China

Related tags Silver fern farms Beef Lamb Poultry

Members of New Zealand co-operative and the country’s largest meat processor Silver Fern Farms have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a partnership with Chinese food operator Shanghai Maling.

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

The vote came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by shareholders John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms​.

The requisitioners felt that the partnership would remove the company’s ability to determine its own future, and turn over majority ownership into foreign hands

In a similar vote cast last October, 82% supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the requisitioners.

‘Pleasing support’

Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders supported 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.​”

He added that 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.​”

‘Damaging’ disruption

It is hoped the 50/50 partnership will open up marketing opportunities by using the Chinese company’s connections and expertise.

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.​”

The partnership is now awaiting sign-off by the Overseas Investment Office, which is expected by 30 September.

Chief executive Dean Hamilton hoped the transaction would be completed early in the New Year.

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.​”

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