December 20 2014, updated 2:45pm

Fonterra's reform plan 'dead in the water'

Last updated 10:15 18/02/2008

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Dairy giant Fonterra's plans to restructure and list on the New Zealand Exchange are in trouble, with a crucial vote set for May being shelved.

The country's biggest company has written to farmers saying it has come up with a revised timetable because its shareholders want more time to think about the proposal.

Fonterra plans a $10 billion-plus listing on the stock exchange with about 20 per cent of the company made available to the public, under the plan announced on November 15, 2007.

The plan has met with widespread opposition from farmers who are worried about giving away control of the company they have spent decades building up.

Sources said the delay means the plan is in big trouble.

"As far as farmers are concerned, it's now a dead duck, it is dead in the water,'' a source said.

A spokesman from Fonterra's Auckland office said there would be a delay to a scheduled preliminary May vote  to change the Fonterra structure into two entities. That vote had been put off.

"We've had a lot of feedback from farmers, both formal and informal and basically what they're saying is they want more time to digest the preferred option,'' the spokesman said.

Shareholders had been sent a letter regarding changes, with some likely to have received that letter today, the company said.

In the letter Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden said there were misunderstandings and some misinformation amongst farmers about the plan, and more time was needed for consultation.

He said it was clear that Fonterra needed to spend "much more time'' on consultation before any deciding vote in 2010.

Under the plan, Fonterra would be listed on the NZX, with a farmer-owned co-operative owning 65 per cent of shares, 20 per cent made available to the public and 15 per cent allocated to farmers individually.

The Fonterra spokesman said 2010 was still the preferred date for the final vote on the listing and capital restructure plan.

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