Alliance nomination rejection criticised

Meat Industry Excellence has slammed Alliance Group for rejecting the nomination of Fonterra director John Monaghan in its upcoming director elections, saying it shows why the sheep and beef industry is in ''such a mess''.

But Alliance Group company secretary Danny Hailes said Mr Monaghan failed to meet criteria set out in the company's constitution and the board of directors had to adhere to that constitution.

Yesterday, MIE chairman and Ohakune farmer John McCarthy issued a press release saying Mr Monaghan, who is also a former chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders' Council and lives in Eketahuna, had his nomination rejected on the basis that his interest in Ngapara Farms, an Alliance Group shareholder, was too small.

While acknowledging the board's decision was technically and constitutionally correct, Mr McCarthy said it was ''astonishing'' it should reject a candidate of the calibre and experience of Mr Monaghan, on the basis of his shareholding.

''The decision is made even worse given that it was Alliance farmers who talked John into standing.

''They asked him to help the meat industry achieve the kind of turnaround the dairy sector had accomplished,'' he said.

Mr Hailes said four nominations were received for the director elections and, under the the constitution, eligibility criteria were set out. The constitution, in its present form, was adopted by shareholders at a meeting in December last year.

One of the criteria was that a director, or a person nominated as a director, must directly or indirectly have a beneficial ownership interest in ordinary nominal value shares in the company of a nominal amount of not less than $5000.

In considering the nominations, the board found that Mr Monaghan did not meet that particular criteria and he had been informed of the decision, Mr Hailes said.

''A person nominated either meets the criteria or they don't. If they don't ... there's no ifs, buts or maybes. The board has to adhere to the constitution.

''I'm very confident the board has acted entirely appropriately,'' he said.

Neither of the two directors retiring by rotation and standing for re-election - Murray Taggart (North Canterbury) and Jason Miller (Southland) were involved ''in any way'' in the board decision, he said.

Meanwhile, Gore farmer Donald Morrison has become the third Meat Industry Excellence executive member to resign in a bid to chase a position on the board of a co-operative.

The group was formed earlier this year, seeking reform in New Zealand's meat industry. Last week, Richard Young (Tapanui) and Dan Jex-Blake (Gisborne) announced they had resigned from MIE's executive to seek election to the board of Silver Fern Farms.

Now, Mr Morrison, who farms in the Waikaka Valley, has stepped down to stand for the board of Alliance Group.

The trio are all pushing for a merger between Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms as a first step to industry consolidation.

When contacted, Mr Morrison said he had a ''real vision and passion'' that was needed to turn the red meat industry around and he was offering a positive vision to farmers for an aspirational goal they could achieve.

The first part was driving supply back to Alliance Group and also to the co-operative model in general, and then giving shareholders ''a clear pathway'' where a merged entity between Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group was the first step to reformation.

Mr Morrison said he was ''probably someone who had sat back for too long, thinking someone will sort this problem out''.

The status quo was clearly not working with shrinking supply volumes, shrinking company and co-operative profitability, decreasing farm profitability and increasing indebtedness.

The forthcoming co-operative elections were an opportunity for farmers to really decide if they wanted change, he said.

''I'm honestly excited about what we can achieve. There's so much potential ... We just need to unlock that ... and find the best entity to take it forward,'' he said.

Voting papers will be posted to Alliance Group shareholders on November 27 and the results will be announced at the company's annual meeting in Dannevirke on December 13.

Both Eoin Garden, from Millers Flat, and David Shaw, from Clinton, retire by rotation at Silver Fern Farms' annual meeting in December.

Mr Shaw is standing for re-election and Mr Garden is standing down. Nominations close on November 6.

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