Proposed merger endorsed

CRT chairman Don McFarlane says the company has received a strong mandate to proceed with the proposed Farmlands merger, following the first shareholder vote yesterday.

The first of two votes required to approve the merger was completed at a CRT shareholder meeting in Christchurch yesterday, with 85.5% in favour, which exceeded the 75% threshold required.

Subject to a confirmatory vote by shareholders on February 27, a merger would proceed on March 1, Mr McFarlane said.

He was ''very pleased'' with the outcome, saying the boards and management of both societies had put considerable effort into the formulation and evaluation of the proposal before it was put to shareholders.

''We thought it made sense; our independent advisers agreed and now the plans have been endorsed by the shareholders of both organisations,'' he said.

The result meant less than 3% of the total shareholder base had voted against the proposal, which amounted to a strong mandate to proceed, he said.

It is understood Farmlands shareholders yesterday also voted in favour of the merger.

The merged entity would have 54,000 members throughout New Zealand, more than 1000 staff, 47 farm supplies stores in the North Island and 31 in the South Island with combined historic sales of more than $2 billion a year.

A business plan for the merger identified potential net synergy benefits amounting to $18 million from the third year onwards.

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