Battle for CBH ends in bid withdrawal

AGC departs the field for the moment but keeps options open

Battle for CBH ends in bid withdrawal
The tilt at CBH has failed for now


Australian Grains Champion (AGC), the group seeking to corporatise Western Australian-based agribusiness and grains logistics entity CBH, has pulled its proposal.

But the initiative of former CBH staff that gained backing from major rival GrainCorp and First State Super has left open the option of returning to the fray if the situation changes.

"The challenge of achieving meaningful reform of CBH was highlighted by the Board’s hurried rejection of our proposal and the huge amount of time and money they have spent to resist you being given a fair chance to consider the Australian Grains Champion proposal," the AGC directors say.

"Adaptability to the extreme challenges of the global market will remain difficult while the board is so entrenched in its opposition of anything but the status quo."

For its part, the CBH board feels vindicated in its opposition to the pitch, which would have seen CBH, a farmer-owned cooperative, listed and which promised owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in return.

CBH Chairman Wally Newman said growers had "wholeheartedly supported the board’s decision" to reject the AGC offer in March.

"The board was unanimous in its view that the proposal did not represent value for Western Australian grain growers and it would have delivered a strategic blocking stake in CBH to east coast grain handler and competitor GrainCorp," Newman says.

"We surveyed our members and they were very clear, 78 per cent of growers supported the board’s rejection of the proposal.

"We are currently working in close consultation with our members, undertaking a structure and governance review and implementing a number of strategic programs.

"These include the network strategy, new services for harvest, the expansion of Interflour and Blue Lake Milling establishing a facility here in Western Australia."

"Following on from a round of grower meetings over the last three weeks, CBH is currently surveying its members in one of the largest surveys in the co-operative’s history, to gauge the preferences of growers on a number of structure and governance options."

"This is central to the way we run our business, informing and focusing on growers, and ensuring we understand what is important to them. We look forward to our members sharing their views in the survey over the next few weeks," said Mr Newman.

"We will then be back to communicate directly with growers on the next steps, as well as focusing now on receiving, moving and exporting the coming harvest."

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