Glanbia deal sees farmers reap co-op share windfall
Thousands of farmer shareholders will get a windfall worth an average of €15,000 to €20,000 after Glanbia cleared the last of three hurdles to reforming its company structure yesterday.
More than 83 per cent of Glanbia co-op members voted in favour of a deal to reduce the co-op’s shareholding in Glanbia plc to 41 per cent.
Yesterday’s vote was the third and final vote in a complex deal to form a new joint venture between the plc and Glanbia co-op which will be known as Glanbia Ingredients Ireland. The new venture will be the largest dairy processing business in the country.
Under co-op rules, the deal had to be passed by 75 per cent of eligible members at two special general meetings. The first, which saw the vote carried with an 82 per cent majority, took place two weeks ago; yesterday’s vote confirmed that.
Some 4,522 farmers cast their votes in Gowran Park, Kilkenny, yesterday, slightly less than the 4,649 who made the earlier journey.
Yesterday’s vote means that members will get a windfall as part of the share spin-out and sale. They will receive 7 per cent of the issued share capital of the plc and can then sell or keep the shares. That shareholding is worth about €157 million and farmers will receive, on average, between €15,000 and €20,000 worth of shares.
A further 3 per cent shareholding, worth about €67 million, will be used to help fund the ingredients business and clear debts in the co-op.
The ballot was conducted independently by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society.
Glanbia co-op chairman Liam Herlihy said the vote concluded “an historic and transformative process” for the society and its members. “It’s been an incredible day in the history of the organisation, in the history of farmers and in the history of Glanbia,” he said.
Glanbia plc managing director John Moloney said the vote was a great opportunity for the society. “I think it’s a great day for the shareholders and it’s a significant reward for the team in the plc to see value going back into farm families and homes down through the south-east of Ireland.”
Yesterday’s meeting also approved a motion to allow the threshold for key ballots to drop from the current 75 per cent to 66 per cent. Any future reduction in the co-op’s shareholding in Glanbia plc below 38 per cent will now require a two-thirds majority of co-op members in a single ballot.