Murray Goul­burn lis­ten­ing to of­fers from po­ten­tial new own­ers

Campaspe News - - FRONT PAGE - By SO­PHIE BALD­WIN

THE fu­ture of Murray Goul­burn has been the sub­ject of wide­spread in­dus­try spec­u­la­tion in re­cent weeks, as the co-op con­firms in­ter­est from other par­ties in the trou­bled business.

New Zealand giant Fon­terra is the lat­est in­ter­ested party con­firm­ing it has thrown its hat into the ring and put for­ward a pro­posal that is non-bind­ing and in­dica­tive.

In a let­ter to sup­pli­ers last month, MG stated it had re­ceived a num­ber of con­fi­den­tial, non-bind­ing in­dica­tive pro­pos­als, rang­ing from the sale of cer­tain as­sets to whole-of-com­pany trans­ac­tions.

“No of­fer has been re­ceived for the units in MG Unit Trust for $1.20 per unit, as spec­u­lated in the me­dia,” a MG spokesman said.

“We con­tinue to work with our fi­nan­cial ad­viser Deutsche Bank to en­gage with a num­ber of par­ties to as­sess their pro­pos­als, in­clud­ing val­u­a­tion.

“At this point, it is too early to make any com­ment about val­u­a­tion or im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Rochester sup­plier Max Hann is hang­ing in with the co-op, al­though he is not con­fi­dent of the out­come.

“There has been a lot of talk in the me­dia and you can’t believe ev­ery­thing you read but as a sup­plier I was ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed to hear man­age­ment took bonuses this year. When your business is re­ally hurt­ing that is a se­ri­ously bad look,” Max said.

Max has been sup­ply­ing MG for more than 25 years and his share­hold­ing is sig­nif­i­cant.

“Fi­nan­cially I would be far bet­ter off to move but I can af­ford to wait it out a bit longer and see what hap­pens,” Max said.

“I have a rea­son­able num­ber of units and they are more of a con­cern to me than the milk price at the mo­ment so I am pre­pared to wait a bit longer to see what hap­pens.”

Max said he wasn’t putting his head in the sand but he has been in­volved in

As a sup­plier I was ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed to hear (Murray Goul­burn) man­age­ment took bonuses this year. When your business is re­ally hurt­ing that is a se­ri­ously bad look

the in­dus­try long enough to know things can turn around – and turn quickly.

“I have had the op­por­tu­nity to sup­ply other pro­ces­sors and my ac­coun­tant and fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor think I am mad for not go­ing.”

Max said as the pres­i­dent of the Rochester Foot­ball Club he was also con­cerned about what im­pact the clos­ing of the fac­tory would have on fam­i­lies and the town­ship – but ac­knowl­edged that is business.

Co­huna dairy farmer Di Bowles de­scribes her­self as a cau­tious sup­plier.

Dairy farmer Max Hann

“Re­gard­less of what hap­pens; MG still has two bil­lion litres of milk, which is still quite a sig­nif­i­cant amount. Look­ing to the fu­ture the board has to make all their de­ci­sions in the best in­ter­est of their sup­pli­ers and I have seen a change in their think­ing and I think they are now start­ing to do that,” Di said.

“Some sup­pli­ers ex­pect change to hap­pen im­me­di­ately but it is go­ing to take some time and I firmly believe that as a ‘wet sup­plier’ we are sit­ting in the box seat.”

Di be­lieves it will be a hard gig to get a buyer over the line be­cause 90 per cent of the vot­ing pop­u­la­tion must agree.

“His­tor­i­cally only 53 per cent of wet sup­pli­ers vote, al­though for the re­cent elec­tion of di­rec­tors I think that fig­ure was up around 60 per cent.”

A ‘wet sup­plier’ is a cur­rent sup­plier who ac­tu­ally has the tanker drive onto their farm and phys­i­cally pick up milk.

Unithold­ers and for­mer sup­pli­ers – both ceased and re­tired – are en­ti­tled to a share div­i­dend but have no vot­ing rights.

“Per­son­ally I would like to see some sort of an equity part­ner and a shut­the-gate pol­icy in­cluded, and I would re­tire be­fore I ever supplied Fon­terra,” she said.

Di said the past 18 months had cre­ated a di­vide among the farm­ing com­mu­nity, which was sad.

“It shouldn’t mat­ter what tanker drives through your farm gate and peo­ple shouldn’t be judged by where their milk goes to. It’s a per­sonal business de­ci­sion.”

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