Fonterra farmer shareholders cautious about selling

Many farmer shareholders seem to be taking a "wait and see" approach before selling economic rights of shares into the Fonterra Shareholders Fund, the dairy co-operative says.

While there had been "strong interest" from farmers and staff in buying units, it seemed many farmers were waiting to see how the units traded before deciding to sell, chief executive Theo Spierings said.

About 260 farmer shareholders had offered to sell economic rights of about 5.5 million Fonterra shares into the fund.

More than 2500 people had applied to buy units under the Friends of Fonterra offer, which was made up of nearly 900 farmer shareholders, nearly 200 sharemilkers, about 70 retired farmers and more than 1300 staff. A further 260 Australian dairy farmer suppliers had also applied for units in the fund.

Each person has applied for differing amounts of units and the number of units each applicant would ultimately receive would be confirmed after the bookbuild process was completed and the final price was announced next week.

With interest rates being low at the moment, that might mean not all farmers were looking for alternative sources of cash, chief financial officer Jonathan Mason said.

Circumstances might change in the future and the co-operative was looking to provide further opportunities for farmers to sell economic rights.

The next opportunity could be after Fonterra's interim results for 2013 had been announced, which was likely to be in March.


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