Fu­ture se­cure

Rice­grow­ers vote ‘yes’ on new Ex­change list­ing

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE -

SunRice share­hold­ers have helped to se­cure the fu­ture of the in­dus­try by agree­ing to move the com­pany’s B class shares to the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties Ex­change, ac­cord­ing to Jer­ilderie grower Mark Ryan.

Mr Ryan said the de­ci­sion will not only pro­tect the lega­cies of the older gen­er­a­tion of rice­grow­ers, but will also help shine the light on a bright fu­ture on the in­dus­try for the younger gen­er­a­tions.

‘‘I’m happy be­cause SunRice have a plan in place that pro­tects our busi­ness from the va­garies of the wa­ter sit­u­a­tion in the Rive­rina,’’ Mr Ryan said.

‘‘I was ex­pect­ing the de­ci­sion be­cause the older gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers wanted to re­alise the true value of their in­vest­ment with SunRice.

‘‘It also helps the fu­ture of the younger grow­ers by pro­tect­ing the fu­ture of SunRice as a com­pany and as a brand.

‘‘It’s big de­ci­sion be­cause they’ve put their lead­er­ship on the line with a plan for the fu­ture and the grow­ers have backed them, which is a great thing for the board mov­ing for­ward.’’

Each share class voted to move shares from the Na­tional Stock Ex­change to the ASX at the com­pany’s AGM in Jer­ilderie on Thurs­day.

It re­ceived 80 per cent sup­port from A class share­hold­ers and more than 90 per cent from B class share­hold­ers.

The move will al­low SunRice to open up sales of its B class shares to a wider range of buy­ers than it cur­rently has ac­cess to on the Na­tional Stock Ex­change.

SunRice said the ASX list­ing will pro­vide the com­pany bet­ter ac­cess to eq­uity cap­i­tal to fund its 2022 growth strat­egy, with­out chang­ing the com­pany’s ex­ist­ing dual class share struc­ture.

A class shares — held by ac­tive grow­ers and which rep­re­sent a con­trol­ling share in the com­pany — will re­main un­changed.

Share­hold­ers also ap­proved a pro­posal to in­crease the max­i­mum share­hold­ing cap of B class shares to 10 per cent.

SunRice’s five year growth strat­egy out­lines pro­posed up­grades across the com­pany’s en­tire foot­print es­ti­mated at be­tween $200 mil­lion and $300 mil­lion, which in­cludes $24 mil­lion for the De­niliquin Rice Mill.

Rice­grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Jeremy Mor­ton said it was an ‘‘ex­cel­lent re­sult for the in­dus­try and the com­pany’’.

‘‘It is go­ing to max­imise the op­por­tu­ni­ties in the growth strat­egy and pro­vide more money for rice, and bet­ter re­turns for share­hold­ers,’’ he said.

‘‘This sets the com­pany and in­dus­try up for a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘‘Ac­cess to cap­i­tal to grow the busi­ness will be a ben­e­fit for ev­ery­one, and it will be en­dur­ing.’’

Mayrung rice-grower Shel­ley Scoullar said there was now even more for SunRice share­hold­ers to be proud of.

‘‘I am very proud of the SunRice brand, which all grow­ers are. I’ll ad­mit that I was wor­ried about grow­ers not hav­ing con­trol, but the SunRice board and team have put a lot of ef­fort into putting ev­ery step in place to en­sure that grower con­trol is a pri­or­ity,’’ she said.

‘‘This year is a prime ex­am­ple of why we need to pro­tect our premium mar­kets. While we know that it is a dry year there is no ques­tion that wa­ter re­form has im­pacted on wa­ter re­li­a­bil­ity and mov­ing for­ward there will be large vari­a­tions in how much wa­ter we have ac­cess to year in and out.

‘‘We grow great rice which is highly sought af­ter, but with the in­crease in cost to grow we need to get top price, which is the premium mar­kets and we have to main­tain them in dry years.

‘‘SunRice has put a strat­egy in place to do that. I love grow­ing rice but I also need to be prof­itable, and this was the best chance to do that.’’

SunRice will ad­vise share­hold­ers of the date of trans­fer of B class shares from the NSX to the ASX once the process is con­firmed, and will is­sue an in­for­ma­tion mem­o­ran­dum for share­hold­ers and po­ten­tial in­vestors.

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