16 Oct 2009

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay defends performance

6:55 am on 16 October 2009

New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay has faced angry shareholders at its annual meeting on Thursday.

The company's losses doubled to $US15.6 million in the June year, due to low milk prices, high development costs and drought.

The company has raised $US30 million but it needs another $US60 million to get back on track.

Chairman Keith Smith told shareholders the board prefers to sell off land, some of which it may then lease back, rather than ask investors for more cash.

Several shareholders at the meeting criticised the company's overall performance.

The company is also facing criticism for notes in its annual accounts suggesting it fudged certain figures, but Mr Smith said it was an isolated administrative error and an error of judgement.

He said the Securities Commission, having completed a review, intends to take no further action.

The company announced that the fee paid to PGG Wrightson for managing its farms will be reduced to 0.75%, from 1% per cent, and will it be paid in shares, not cash.

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay says it won't make a profit for a least another two years, but is hoping higher dairy prices, more irrigation and better weather will see it post more pleasing results next year.

Director Sam Maling announced at the meeting that he is stepping down from the board, in order to concentrate on his directorships at PGG Wrightson, Pyne Gould Corporation and Marac.