Sadness, relief at MG Saputo sale

Sadness and relief at MG sale to Saputo


Dairy
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There were mixed feelings over Murray Goulburn's sale to Canada's Saputo.

Murray Goulburn (MG) suppliers at the co-operative’s extraordinary general meeting expressed sadness, tinged with relief, that the Saputo sale has gone through.

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SAD DAY: Val Read, Lockington, said she came down to the Murray Goulburn extraordinary general meeting to have one last say on the co-operative.

SAD DAY: Val Read, Lockington, said she came down to the Murray Goulburn extraordinary general meeting to have one last say on the co-operative.

One described it as attending a wake, another a funeral and a third that it saw the life-support system of the co-operative being turned off.

MG will go to Saputo for $1.31 billion, after a final vote of 97.9 per cent – or 74,036,070 - of all MG shareholders in favour of the asset and liability sale.

Only 2.1 pc of shareholders (1,586,215) voted against the deal, with 97,099 abstaining.

A small turnout of about 100 shareholders attended the EGM, with the vast majority voting by proxy beforehand.

MG supplier director Craig Dwyer, Bullaharre, told the EGM it was a momentous day, in the 68-year history of the co-operative.

“When seven dairy farmers from the Cobram area became the first subscribers to MG, each holding 100 shares on the 9th of January 1950, I am sure they never envisaged this day,” Mr Dwyer said.

“The original investment by those visionaries saw MG grow to become one of the leaders in the Australian dairy industry and a cornerstone of dairy communities around the country.”

Brian Schuler, Crossley dairy farmer

He said he, and wife Donna, initially rejected some share farming opportunities, as they were not MG farms “and, by default, not part of the MG family.”

“The MG family encapsulated all - from the night shift operator, the tanker driver, the field service team, right up to senior management,” Mr Dwyer said.

He urged suppliers to give the new owner, Saputo, a chance to prove itself and build on the co-operatives foundations.

Val Read, Lockington, has a herd of 350 and said she came to the meeting out of sentimentality and to have the last say on the future of the co-op.

CO-OP SUPPORTER: South Australian supplier Sue Black, Eight Mile Creek, said she had never been happy with the floating of Murray Goulburn.

CO-OP SUPPORTER: South Australian supplier Sue Black, Eight Mile Creek, said she had never been happy with the floating of Murray Goulburn.

“It’s a sad day, we have supplied MG for at least 35 years and I know a lot of people would have supplied longer,” Ms Read said.

She said the family would probably stay with Saputo.

“The result is a relief.

“You worry about whether or not if someone is going to vote no and we don’t know what is going to happen with the future of the company.”

South Australian supplier Sue Black, Eight Mile Creek, said it was a sad day for Australian agriculture and shareholders.

“We had such belief in the co-operative,” Ms Black said.

Jonathan Munro, Camperdown dairy farmer

“We had some control, we watched what happened to Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) and we left when they went to Saputo.”

She said she was always opposed to the MG float, in July 2015.

“You can’t serve two masters, you can’t meet suppliers needs and shareholders demands,” she said.

Scott Millar, Koondrook, milks 500 cows.

“We all feel like we’ve been at a wake,” Mr Millar said.

‘It’s inevitable but hopefully, we can move ahead, from here.

“Farmers have got a bit of certainty now.”

He said he was sad it had come to a sale but was glad the process was over.

“Lino Saputo has come across quite well.

“I’m not oblivious to the fact he is a salesman, but we will hopefully move ahead.”

MG managing director Ari Mervis said Saputo recognised the need to have profitable dairy farms and a guaranteed milk supply.

Max Baker, Nathalia dairy farmer

“Saputo has demonstrated itself as a credible and trusted processor in Australia, whose investment in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, provided us with the confidence they will honor all their commitments to suppliers,” Mr Mervis said.

The story Sadness, relief at MG Saputo sale first appeared on Stock & Land.

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