Fonterra AGM: 'Taf will make us a stronger'

02:18, Dec 17 2012

The launch of share trading among farmers (Taf) has finally taken care of the problem of money washing in and out of Fonterra, outgoing chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden has told the annual meeting of New Zealand's biggest company.

In his final speech to farmer-shareholders after leading the company for 11 years van der Heyden said the words "redemption risks can now leave Fonterra's vocabulary''.

The capital restructure Taf was introduced last month after a fiery two-year debate among farmers and saw the introduction of a market for share trading among farmers, removing the obligation for Fonterra to trade its own shares, and the launch of listed units on the NZX and ASX.

Van der Heyden told around 350 farmer-shareholders at Mystery Creek near Hamilton today that Taf was unique to Fonterra.

''We are in the very early days of Taf operation. Thank you all for hanging in there.''

''It was a massive effort but completely worth it.

''A lot of you are taking a wait and see approach. Fair enough. But when I ask myself if Taf will make us a stronger, more successful cooperative, the answer is a definite yes.''

''So that's one mission accomplished.''

Directors' promotion of the introduction of Taf deeply divided the cooperative with many farmers fearing it would lead to the loss of 100 per cent farmer control and ownership of the company, which controls nearly 90 per cent of New Zealand's raw milk supply.

Taf was championed by van der Heyden. Only about a quarter of the room gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech.