Ian Robb, chairman of Westland Dairy Co-operative, has told New Zealand dairy behemoth Fonterra to stop meddling in his company’s affairs.
Fonterra chairman John Roadley recently announced his proposal that the two companies merge on a share for share basis, but the board of the smaller Hokitika-based dairy company rejected the plan and said it would not meet with Fonterra executives to discuss terms.
“We have moved on and are planning for our future and there is nothing new about this proposal as far as we can see,” said Robb, who argues that the offer is essentially identical to that offered last May and rejected by 95.4% of shareholders.
“Mr Roadley should be concentrating on running Fonterra and getting benefits for his farmers rather than using Fonterra’s size and dominance to meddle in Westland’s affairs,” he added.
Roadly was reportedly surprised and disappointed that Westland was not keen to merge. He is quoted in Stuff as saying: “It seems probable they [Westland shareholders] will have nothing on which to base this important decision other than the recommendation of the board – a recommendation made without any dicussion with Fonterra.”
Furthermore, Roadley insisted that said that “unless a merger can be effected by 8 March, the window of opportunity will be lost forever”, an allusion to the two companies ability to take advantage of the special legislation enacted last year to enable the merger of Kiwi Co-operative Dairies and New Zealand Dairy Group last year.
Robb did report however that shareholders are meeting on 16 January, when they will have an opportunity to call for a review of the proposal.