Tuesday 23 January 2018

Glanbia co-op council hints at reigniting €350m bid for dairy business

Laura Noonan

THE 100-member council of Glanbia's co-op has given a "very strong sense" that it wants its board to reignite a €350m bid for Glanbia plc's Irish dairy business, a senior co-op figure said yesterday.

Geoff Meagher, who was teed up to become interim managing director of the hived-off Dairy Ireland business, made the comments after addressing the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) annual conference.

The co-op's bid for the plc's Irish dairy business collapsed on May 10, when the deal's support fell two percentage points short of the 75pc required by co-op rules.

Co-op chairman Liam Herlihy recently indicated plans for a "post-mortem" among the society's membership.

Mr Meagher said the post-mortem had already started.

"At council level, there's a lot of disappointment and a very strong sense that the [co-op's] board should not let this lie," he said.

The board will "take those comments into consideration" and is also getting further feedback from the 8,200 co-op members with voting entitlements, Mr Meagher added.


He stressed, however, that the board would be "very cautious" and was not keen to engage in a Lisbon-style process of re-running the vote until it got passed.

The deal would have seen Glanbia co-op reduce its stake in the plc from 54pc to less than 10pc, prompting concerns about the reduction in the co-op's exposure to the plc's high-margin international business.

The €350m price tag for the deal was criticised as being overly generous, while concerns were raised about the farmers' ability to eek more value from the Dairy Ireland business.

"I think the point people need to understand is the farmer board is elected by the membership. . . and that board would have considered this to be a fair proposal," Mr Meagher said.

"It's a little bit unfair for everybody [to air] their own individual view as to what [the merits were] . . . If you have a board who are elected by farmer representatives, they are the collective view," he added.

Irish Independent

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