Mega rural merger a step closer

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 17:27 12/02/2013

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The merger of CRT and Farmlands into a $2-plus billion rural services business took a big step forward with shareholders from each co-operative giving their approval in the first leg of voting today.

CRT shareholders were 85.5 per cent in favour of the merger after votes were counted in a Christchurch meeting. The voting by Farmlands shareholders in a North Island meeting was understood to be just over 82 per cent.

The vote count by shareholders in both co-operatives had to exceed 75 per cent in the first of two meetings.

CRT chairman Don McFarlane said he was pleased with the outcome.

"The boards and management of both societies have put considerable effort into the formulation and evaluation of the proposal before it was put to shareholders. We thought it made sense, our independent advisors agreed, and now the plans have been endorsed by the shareholders of both organisations."

McFarlane said the result meant that less than 3 per cent of the total shareholder base had voted against the proposal. This amounted to a strong mandate to proceed, he said.

"It's a busy time of year for farmers. Shareholder feedback at our eighteen road show meetings was valuable. Many shareholders were busy with harvest and other activities and just wanted the co-ops to get on with the merger because it made sense," he said.

The merged entity will have 54,000 members throughout New Zealand, more than 1000 staff, 47 farm supplies stores in the North Island and 31 in the South Island with combined sales in excess of $2b a year.

A business plan for the merger identified potential benefits amounting to $18 million from the third year onwards.

McFarlane said that, subject to a confirmatory vote by shareholders on February 27, a merger would proceed on March 1.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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