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'Brisk' voting by co-op members on Glanbia re-organisation

GLANBIA will today announce the results of a vote taken by 7,800 co-op members who are deciding the future of the group.

Controlled by farmers, Glanbia co-op has been in negotiations with stockmarket-listed Glanbia plc, in which the co-op owns a 54.4pc stake, to establish a joint venture to operate a milk processing business as EU milk quotas are poised to end in three years' time.

Under the terms of the deal, the joint venture will be split 60-40, with the co-op controlling the larger stake and Glanbia plc the smaller amount. Under the deal, a new milk processing plant would be built on the Waterford-Kilkenny border. Glanbia plc would subsequently focus on its nutrition business that includes a major cheese unit in the United States.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, voting among the co-op members was said to have been "brisk" and by 6pm about half those entitled to cast votes had done so at the 12 polling stations in the south-east.

Many of those who did intend to vote weren't expected to do so until nearer the 9pm closing time. The results are due to be announced around lunchtime today.

A simple 50pc majority is required from yesterday's vote to agree the sale of 3.5pc of the co-op's 54pc holding in Glanbia plc. That would bring the co-op's holding to about 51pc and result in the creation of a company called Dairy Ingredients Ireland. That firm will ultimately form the new joint venture with the plc, called Glanbia Ingredients Ireland.

But there will be two further votes that will require 75pc approval. Those votes will determine the funding structure of the new joint venture. While the co-op board has generally backed the plan, not all its members are happy about the move.

Irish Independent