Monday 22 December 2014

Jubilation and toasts all round as deal finally moves another step closer

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Published 29/11/2012 | 05:00

HUNGRY farmers tucked into beef rolls with lashings of ketchup after casting their votes in Gowran Park.

The mood inside the 10,000 sq ft marquee had changed dramatically from two years ago when the Glanbia demerger vote fell short of the 75pc threshold needed.

This time out, farmers are a little more cash-hungry. They've had a tough year and now there's a chance for shareholders to get their hands on around €15,000 a piece.

A massive 4,649 farmers turned out to vote on the Co-op's future stake in Glanbia Plc.

After they cast their votes, the farmers washed down the beef rolls, Kilmeaden cheese and chocolate digestives with cups of tea and shots of Baileys Irish cream.

As they left the Co Kilkenny racecourse and boarded buses organised by the company, the majority of farmers appeared upbeat.

Former IFA leader Padraig Walshe was one of the dairy farmers who voted "yes" to Glanbia's proposals yesterday.

Predicted

Mr Walshe, a farmer from Durrow, Co Laois, is back from a stint in Brussels where he was president of farm lobby group COPA.

He correctly predicted that over 80pc of farmers would vote in favour of the share spin-out and sale before yesterday's result was announced.

Mr Walshe said the move would present an opportunity to "reduce debt in the co-op" and to fund its future expansion.

He said farmers had "too often" put up money for agricultural investments and got "nothing back". However, this would mean farmers would see a return which would have a positive impact on the economy. "Whenever farmers get money, they are known to spend it in the local economy," he added.

Most shareholders didn't wait around to hear the final result of the vote as Glanbia had agreed to notify them by text alert of the outcome.

Phones were buzzing shortly after 4pm when Glanbia chairman Liam Herlihy announced that 81.8pc of members had voted in favour of the share sale.

Only 850 farmers – or 18.2pc voted against the proposals. Of the dairy suppliers, 77.1pc voted 'yes'. This means the first major hurdle has been cleared by Glanbia Plc which needed 75pc approval to carry the vote.

A confirmatory vote will now take place on December 12 to finalise the decision.

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