Meat lobbyists seek court ruling on meeting date

A group lobbying for changes to the meat industry is headed to the High Court to force Silver Fern Farms to set a date for a special general meeting.

The Meat Industry Action Group (MIAG) has shareholder support to force the two co-operatives, Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to call special general meetings to discuss industry consolidation.

Alliance has agreed to hold its meeting on September 5, but MIAG said SFF has delayed committing to a date, forcing it to seek a court ruling.

But it appears the meat companies are less than enthusiastic about calling the special meetings at which MIAG has 11 remits to put to shareholders.

MIAG says the remits would advance industry consolidation and help create a new farmer-owned entity, it calls the National Champion, to handle 80% of the country's red meat industry.

Alliance chairman Owen Poole this week slated MIAG, saying the resolutions were prescriptive, divisive and counter to the legal requirements of directors acting in the best interests of the company.

SFF chairman Eoin Garden accused MIAG of being disruptive and misleading.

"It is more likely that history would record MIAG, by its actions in destabilising the governance of both companies, has in itself been the cause of slowing the progress of industry consolidation."

MIAG spokesman John Gregan said SFF was treating its shareholders with contempt by refusing to confirm a meeting date, while planning to have shareholders vote on a merger with rural servicing company PGG Wrightson on September 8.

"MIAG's request is simple. SFF should hold a meeting to vote on consolidation not just the PGG Wrightson partnership. It is the shareholders' right to decide whether SFF should pursue consolidation and a National Champion," he said.

Mr Garden said the company had agreed to hold the meeting following its own special meeting on September 8.

A promise to hold the meeting was communicated to MIAG on August 10 and he said the court action was a waste of time, resources and money.

It was important to get an outcome on the SFF-PGG Wrightson vote so the new board could hear issues raised at the special meeting initiated by MIAG.

"We have a firm option on the table to be voted on, whereas MIAG requirements are about a process, as opposed to a concrete transaction."

 

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