AgriTech committee 'not signalling a split'

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 08:48 05/12/2012
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PGG Wrightson

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PGG Wrightson is setting up a new committee to monitor its lucrative seeds business but says it does not signal a future splitting-off.

PGW counsel Julian Daly said the company would have more information for the sharemarket at the end of the week or early next week on the new AgriTech committee, its brief and scope and who was on it.

Yesterday PGW told the NZX of three new directors, the retirement of two others, and the new committee.

Daly said the board considered it did not get into enough depth and detail about the AgriTech business, which included seeds, grains and agrifeeds.

The new committee would probably meet monthly, one day before the board meeting, "to ensure a subsection of the board is getting into sufficient detail around that side of the business as well".

It has been speculated regularly that PGW might eventually split off the seeds business and separately list it. It is the part of the business its Chinese half-owner, Agria Corporation, is most interested in.

Daly said it was difficult to argue against that, but "that is certainly not the purpose for which the AgriTech committee has been established".

The committee was to provide additional governance and oversight, recognising that AgriTech was a different sort of business that needed more attention around inventory management and research and development.

It needed experts like retiring independent director Dr Zhi-Kang Li to offer insight and share their experiences, Daly said.

"So that's the purpose of it. It's not some sort of committee that's engineered to break that side of the business off."

PGW chairman Sir John Anderson announced that Dr Zhi-Kang Li and director Wah KwongTsang were retiring as directors, but they would be involved with the AgriTech committee.

Newly appointed to the board were Wai Yip Tsang, Kean Seng U and Lim Siang Seah.

The latter is an independent director.

PGW said Wai Yip (Patrick) Tsang began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers as an auditor.

He had finance roles in a number of companies listed on the main board of Hong Kong Stock Exchange and was currently a director of China Pipe Group Limited, a Hong Kong-listed company.

Lim Siang (Ronald) Seah was a Singaporean with a background in banking and funds management, who had spent much of his career working for the AIG group of companies in Singapore.

He served as chairman of AIG Global Investment Corporation (Singapore) Ltd until 2005.

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He was also a director of several listed Singaporean companies.

Kean Seng U was head of corporate and legal affairs for Agria.

He has extensive experience in advising multi- national corporations and sovereign entities on direct investments in the People's Republic of China as well as overseas mergers and acquisitions of foreign assets by entities of the People's Republic of China.

- The Press

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