SFF extends share, cash issue deadline

Silver Fern Farms has extended by three weeks the deadline for its share exchange and cash issue offer, but concedes the $12 million in new shareholder capital confirmed as of Thursday night, was "at the low end of what we envisaged".

The chairman of the meat co-operative, Eoin Garden, said 37% of shares had been exchanged so far and "a significant number" of shareholders had taken up or exceeded their full cash issue entitlement.

The company had hoped to raise at least $80 million, but with a flood of applications arriving before yesterday's deadline, more expected over the weekend and the clash with lambing, the deadline had been extended until October 9, Mr Garden said.

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) chief executive Keith Cooper said in an interview a key figure for him was the 37% of company shares which had been exchanged for a new class of ordinary shares, because it meant those farmers were "engaged" with SFF.

"That gets shareholders on our new system and means they are engaged in the new capital structure.

"They gain access to the benefits of that new capital structure and even though they may not be putting money in now, they are in a position to participate in the new capital structure," he said.

Under the offer, SFF shareholders can exchange rebate and supplier investment shares for the new class of ordinary shares.

Those who take up the offer are eligible for a cash issue of two $1 ordinary shares for each share held, with the subscription price paid up front or over three years.

Shareholders can buy additional ordinary shares above their entitlement.

The ordinary shares could be sold to other farmers or to any investor on the Unlisted trading exchange, but 60% of voting shares remained with farmer shareholders.

The company said 13,000 transacting shareholders, who held 57.5 million rebate and supplier investment shares, were eligible for the issue.

As of Thursday night, 12 million new shares had been subscribed for and 22 million old shares exchanged, it said.

Mr Cooper was optimistic participation would grow once the pressure of lambing had eased.

"By the amount of activity towards the closing date, with the extension we are giving people time to get to their paper work."

Mr Garden said the new shares were in theory valued at $4.50 each, based on modelling prior to the exchange offer and cash issue.

He urged shareholders to participate, saying that by not exchanging their shares, they were transferring value to those who had.

SFF intends using the new capital to reduce debt, invest in new technology and to roll out its new plate-to-pasture integrated supply chain, which aims to supply consumers of lamb with the type of product they want, when they want it.


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