Ricegrowers vote ‘yes’ on new Exchange listing
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.