31 Aug 2008

Meat merger talks still under negotiation

9:11 pm on 31 August 2008

The farmer action group that's trying to to get the two meat co-operatives back into merger negotiations says it's disappointed at the strong opposition coming from one of the companies.

Both the Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms will hold special general meetings to consider the Meat Industry Action Group's resolutions aimed at initiating new talks under an independent chairman.

Alliance will hold its meeting on Friday.

But Alliance's Board, which includes two founder members of the action group, is urging its farmer shareholders to reject MIAG's resolutions.

It says the group's aim of forming a "national champion" to handle 80% of the meat production, a concept first put forward by Alliance, is no longer possible.

And the Alliance board is also opposed to the idea of merging with Silver Fern Farms if it loses its pure co-operative structure in a proposed partnership with the listed rural servicing company, PGG Wrightson.

MIAG's chairman, John Gregan, says the group has been getting solid support for its proposals in its own meetings with farmers and it's hoping the share holders of both co-ops will rise above the bitter rivalry between the two companies.

He says the group is simply asking the two companies to sit around a table and talk.

Mr Gregan says an independent chairman is the key to successful discussions because of the historic rivalry and bitterness between these two companies.

Silver Fern Farms will consider MIAG's resolutions in October.

But before that, its farmer shareholders will decide on Monday whether to support the proposed 50-50 partnership with PGG Wrightson that Alliance objects to.