28 Jul 2009

No work being done to list Fonterra - chairman

5:54 am on 28 July 2009

Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden says no work is under way to list the co-operative on the stock exchange.

An announcement on Friday that Mr van der Heyden is to step down from the board of the stock exchange operator, NZX, has sparked fresh speculation that Fonterra is considering a market listing.

It unsuccessfully consulted with farmers in 2007 over such a move.

However, Mr van der Heyden says people are reading too much into his NZX decision and it was simply about clearing up a perceived conflict of interest.

He said no more work was being done on the proposals put to farmers in 2007.

However, he said all other options to restructure Fonterra's capital structure remain on the table.

Financial pressures

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says Fonterra has been intense financial strain over the past year.

Pressures included keeping up the milk payout to 10,000 suppliers despite a collapse in overseas prices.

The company also had to pay $600 million to farmers leaving the co-operative or reducing supply because of drought.

Radio New Zealand's correspondent says listing on the stock market would ease some of these pressures.

Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Lachlan McKenzie says something has to be done about the structure, but that should not be listing on the stock exchange.

He says listing would mean giving up farmer control of the co-operative.

Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr says a listing would be a boost to farmers and the economy. He says he thinks it's going to happen sooner or later and Fonterra will be the better for it.