Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

Glanbia Board rejections to have consequences

John Shirley

Has the council of Glanbia Co-op Society thought through their rejection of the two democratically elected nominees, Brendan Hayes and Robert Prendergast, to the co-op board?

It looks now as if their action will leave the board short of two farmer members. The council hasn't ratified their nomination. The advisory areas of East Waterford and Barrowvale, won't nominate anybody else. No other council member from the areas concerned will accept a board seat. Stalemate ensues.

However, this stalemate has serious implications since it means that farmers will lose their majority on the board of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII).

The whole point of establishing GII was to give the farmers control of milk processing. Now it looks as if the council has thrown that away.

You would also worry about the thinking behind the council's rejection of the two men.

Last week Glanbia issued a statement rejecting any suggestion that the council's vote on Mr Hayes and Mr Prendergast had anything to do with the GII controversy.

The co-op pointed that the move was a "democratic decision" taken by the 86-member council.

However, there are serious fears among ordinary Glanbia farmer shareholders that the action taken by the council was influenced by the fact both Mr Hayes and Mr Prendergast were openly opposed to the GII deal and to the loss of a farmer majority on the Glanbia plc board.

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Surely farmers need co-op board members who are prepared to analyse the situation, and to question and challenge management.

Their opposition to the proposed GII package was a valid stance, especially in the light of the co-op having benefited hugely from its rejection of the earlier share spin-out deal proposed by management in 2010.

Does the co-op council want to be represented only by supine yes men on its board?

Obviously the farmers whom Hayes and Prendergast represent do not think so.

And they proved this by voting for the pair to again represent Barrowvale and East Waterford on the council; and followed this up by voting no confidence in Glanbia chairman Liam Herlihy.

Irish Independent