SFF shareholders’ views reaffirmed

John Shrimpton outlines his views on the Silver Fern Farms-Shanghai Maling joint venture at the...
John Shrimpton outlines his views on the Silver Fern Farms-Shanghai Maling joint venture at the special meeting. The SFF board is in the background. Photo by Sally Rae.
John Shrimpton says he accepts that Silver Fern Farms shareholders have "spoken".

Mr Shrimpton, a co-founder of Vietnam-based Dragon Capital and a large landowner in the Canterbury high country, led the charge to try to stop the joint venture with Shanghai Maling, which was approved by shareholders in October last year.

Following yesterday’s vote that reaffirmed shareholder support for the transaction, Mr Shrimpton said he was not disappointed, but very honoured to have been part of a "fantastic’’ team effort.

"We’ve highlighted some very, very serious issues. People have exercised their rights to vote and, as the Chinese would say, be careful what you wish for," he said.

Asked about the cost to SFF over the special meeting process which chairman Rob Hewett said could be closer to $1million than $500,000, Mr Shrimpton said that could have been avoided "by putting the special resolution to us in the first place".

Before the vote, he described it as probably the most momentous day in the company’s 70-year history.

Those supporting the requisition cared very deeply about the company and shareholders should not be voting for loss of control of their co-operative.

He believed the board should call for an independent assessment of what the precise capital requirements were for the business, saying alternatives would be funded.

Also speaking at the meeting, Sam Robinson, the last chairman of Hawkes Bay-based meat company Richmond, said he unequivocally supported the joint venture, which was forward thinking.

What the requisitioners had missed, was that ultimately, control sat with the farmer who supplied their livestock.

"No stock, no business," he said.

He believed the Overseas Investment Office had been "tardy" in granting approval for the transaction and he was "really disappointed" by that.

Mark Patterson, of Lawrence, questioned whether enough was known about Shanghai Maling and its reputation.

Chairman Rob Hewett said SFF was satisfied it did "know them well".

Jim Lawson, of Waikouaiti, believed the special meeting process had been a "total waste of time and money" for the company.

"All this has been discussed and decided a year ago. It’s been regurgitated,"  Mr Lawson said. 

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