Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Glanbia vote is too close to call

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The outcome of tomorrow's crucial Glanbia shareholder vote on taking the co-op's stake in the plc below 50pc is on a knife-edge.

Glanbia sources said the proposal, which needs to get 75pc approval of both active milk suppliers and shareholders, was too close to call.

Some observers believe the result could be as tight as the Glanbia demerger vote in 2010, which fell 2pc short of the required 75pc threshold.

Shareholder turnout for the vote at Gowran Park will be critical to the outcome. It's believed that a strong turnout will favour the 'yes' camp but supporters of the move admitted that securing 75pc approval was "a huge ask".

The ballot that gave the green light to the establishment of the joint venture company Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) between Glanbia Co-op and the plc attracted a 77pc turnout from the 7,800 shareholders who were eligible to vote. However, that vote was held in 12 regional centres, while tomorrow's ballot requires shareholders to travel to Kilkenny, which could hit turnout.

The motion being voted on, if passed, would result in Glanbia Co-op selling 10pc of its stake in Glanbia Plc. The co-op already sold 3pc to set up GII and the latest move would take the co-op's stake in the plc down to 41.4pc.

Three per cent of the 10pc would be used to provide additional equity to GII, while the remaining 7pc would deliver close to €160m in a spin out of plc shares to all co-op shareholders. For the average milk supplier the spin out is worth around €15,000.

While the spin out will appeal to farmers after a particularly tough year, 29pc of co-op shareholders voted against the joint venture proposal and supporters of the latest move will need to get at least 4pc of those dissenters to change sides for the proposal to be carried.

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