DEAR SIR: It was with a tremendous sigh of relief that I greeted the news that talks between Kerry Co-op and Kerry Group over a joint venture (JV) deal had been “suspended”.
As a dairy farmer and as a Kerry Co-op shareholder my attitude is long may those talks stay suspended so that I can sleep more soundly at night.
It is a great pity our Kerry Co-op board didn’t allow its shareholders vote on the JV proposal as I believe it would have got a shambolic level of support.
I am also of the belief this board has built up such resentment with the co-op shareholders that the only vote they could now put forward and hope to win is one to liquidate Kerry Co-op.
When news broke that Kerry Co-op had lost out on the JV, I read a statement from the co-op which said it had pursued the JV in the interest of “protecting interests of, and delivering for all its stakeholders”.
I was deeply puzzled by this – how was the co-op trying to deliver for all shareholders by committing to spend €700m of shareholders’ money on a dairy business when approximately 10,000 out of the co-op’s 13,000 shareholders are dry (B&C) shareholders who have nothing to gain from owning a dairy business?
Ironically, it was the co-op’s 3,000 dairy farmer (A) shareholders who were resisting the potential €700m deal most strongly of all.
When I read in Kerry Co-op’s statement that it “will remain open to evaluating opportunities”, I was left seething. Kerry Co-op’s board is made up of 21 farmer directors – I for one do not need nor want any one of them trying to invest as much as one cent of my money on my behalf.
Kerry Co-op’s statement also said the co-op “engaged in a thoroughly professional approach” to the JV negotiations.
The last Kerry Co-op board meeting that took place before the bid for the JV was submitted purportedly had to be abandoned as the meeting was being live-streamed to protestors outside the Kerry Co-op offices .
If that’s considered a thoroughly professional approach to negotiations, then what would be their idea of an unprofessional approach?
I am immensely proud of the success story that Kerry Co-op and Kerry Group both are. I have good reason to be, my family was instrumental in making them both what they are today – however, with Kerry Co-op’s failed bid for Kerry Group’s dairy business and with the co-op having publicly announced it won’t back James Doyle for his arbitration case against Kerry Group, it is clear to me Kerry Co-op has run out of road.
It is time we liquidate Kerry Co-op to give the shareholders their money.
By liquidating Kerry Co-op, we will get 6.12 Kerry Group shares per co-op share in a CGT spin out.
The €70m that the co-op holds in cash could be transferred to a new entity prior to liquidation and used to represent the dairy farmers of the southwest long into the future after all of us are dead.