Move for fresh vote
Shareholders called on to re-think decision
A GROUP of Tully Sugar shareholders are making a fresh move to change the constitution of the North Queensland miller after a takeover bid by US agribusiness giant Bunge failed because of a share ownership rule.
The group holds about 5 per cent of shares, the requisite number to oblige management to put the matter to a vote. Tully Sugar chief executive John King said yesterday the company had received requisitions for another vote from 5 per cent of shareholders, and that, under the Corporations Act, it had two months in which to stage the vote. Bunge’s $ 126.7 million takeover bid failed on February 18 when a motion to allow a single party to hold more than 20 per cent of Tully Sugar was lost by a small margin. Some 72 per cent of Tully Sugar shares were voted in support of it, just 3 per cent less than the 75 per cent required for the motion to pass.
Queensland Sugar, with a majority 12.7 per cent stake, and Mackay Sugar, with 4.1 per cent, voted against the motion along with some cane-growers. QSL, which handles about 90 per cent of Australia’s sugar exports, said a proposal from Mackay Sugar for remaining independents to merge might provide a better long-term outcome for Tully shareholders and the sugar industry.
Mr King said yesterday Tully Sugar and Mackay Sugar had not met, but he expected the two to discuss the merger concept, which aims to maintain majority grower ownership among independent mills.
Bunge bid supporter and Tully Sugar shareholder, Euramo grower Bryce Henry, told ABC Radio yesterday he hoped people would re-evaluate why they voted against the takeover ‘‘ and really look at . . . what opportunities t hey t hink may be available to them in the future if they let this vote slip. Certainly in the case of Bunge . . . I feel we had the opportunity to partnership with a world class company, and tap into their expertise; and also ( it is) a company with good financial credentials which can take our company through to become part of a world-class entity.’’
Mr Henry said he was not sure Mackay had the expertise ‘‘ to take Tully where we want it to go’’.
Moves for the fresh vote come as Bunge calls on Tully Sugar shareholders to evaluate if the Mackay merger plan can deliver real benefits.
In a letter this week, Bunge says benefits of the merger idea cannot be assessed because ‘‘ there is no firm offer to judge’’. ‘‘ Do you believe there are big cost-savings and synergies . . . to capture across operations potentially as geographically dispersed as Mossman, Tully, Proserpine, Mackay and Isis?’’ it asks. CHANGE: Tully Sugar CEO John King has received requisitions
for another vote from 5 per cent of shareholders