Fonterra farmers back trading scheme

Fonterra's dairy farmers have voted in favour of the cooperative's Trading Among Farmers share trading scheme, but they will need to vote again on required changes to its constitution.

The resolution for Trading Among Farmers (TAF), which required a simple 50 per cent majority, received 66.45 per cent support.

Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said the final vote on the share trading scheme attracted a record voter turnout.

"Our farmers have voted in big numbers, representing 85 per cent of the co-op's milksolids," he said.

"Now we can move forward with this important evolution in our capital structure," he said.

The second part of the vote, which was for constitutional changes to Fonterra, needed 75 per cent but received 72.8 per cent.

The constitutional changes would have tightened limits on the size the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund.

"The board will take this resolution back to the next annual meeting in November and will seek Shareholders' Council support for this," he said.

In the interim, further planning on TAF would proceed for launch in November, he said in a statement.

The vote paves the way for trading in Fonterra shares among farmers and will allow outside investors to gain exposure to the sector.

The moves are designed to eliminate Fonterra's redemption risk - when the co-operative has to buy back shares from its farmer members - and provide a more permanent capital base for it to build on.

The scheme's detractors feared it would dilute farmer ownership of their industry and allow outside investors to exert influence on the size of dividend payments versus what farmers are paid via the farm gate milk price.

The main meeting was held in Hamilton. Other meetings are being held in Whangarei, Rotorua, Hawera, Palmerston North, Nelson, Ashburton and Invercargill.


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