19 Nov 2011

Fonterra plans to review role of custodian in TAF proposal

7:19 am on 19 November 2011

Fonterra says it's looking at different ways to get farmers on-board the contentious "trading among farmers" proposal.

After initially voting in favour of TAF in June last year, many farmers have expressed concern about losing full farmer control of the company and are calling for another vote.

They're not worried about the share trading plan itself, but a new share fund that would operate alongside the scheme.

Farmers looking to free up cash from shares would be able to deposit them in the fund. Outside investors would be able to buy units in the fund, giving them the dividend and income rights of those shares.

Legal title to the shares while they're in the fund would lie with a yet-to-be-named custodian.

The issue surfaced again on Thursday at the co-operative's annual general meeting, where chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden reiterated Fonterra's message that trading among farmers would not compromise their full ownership or control of the company.

But he says the success of TAF relies on shareholder support, so the co-operative will review the role of the custodian in the proposal.

Sir Henry says currently the custodian is a 100% subsidiary of Fonterra, so it's owned by Fonterra and farmers own Fonterra.

He says the debate is around whether that is 100% ownership and control - Fonterra believes it is, but some farmers are concerned about it which is why Fonterra is looking at other ways of organising it.