After an anxious wait there was jubilation when the chairman of Glanbia, Liam Herlihy, announced that 83% of shareholders in Glanbia Co-op had voted to ratify their earlier decision to dispose of 10% of its holding in Glanbia plc.
It means farmers will receive an average of €15,000 each as part of a share spin-out, while their stake in Glanbia plc will dip from 51% to 43%.
The turnout was 4,522, of which 3,975 said yes. A majority of 75% was required for the deal to go through. Members will now receive a €157m windfall.
The other 3% which members voted to dispose of will go towards strengthening the new joint venture company which will run the Glanbia milk processing business in Ireland.
There were a few hundred people left in the marquee at Gowran Park at 6.15pm and management hugged each other as the result was announced.
Glanbia plc managing director John Moloney said he was caught for words. “This is a humbling experience because plc’s are normally creating value for shareholders and today, through this decision, we have really connected with the beneficiaries of the decision, the shareholders in the co-op. It is really satisfying that we could achieve this,” he said.
Mr Moloney said the decision provided the co-op with great opportunities and was a good day for the farmers in the south-east and beyond. “This value in real monetary terms is being sewn back into farms and into the pockets of farm families,” he said.
The new managing director of the joint venture company which will control the country’s largest milk pool, Jim Bergin, was equally optimistic about the future of the company, which is 60% owned by the co-op and 40% by the plc.
“The decision today and specifically the one to strengthen the new joint venture’s balance sheet by €30m will give the new entity and the farmers who control it, control of their own destiny,” he said.
Mr Bergin said that with a steady income stream, the future was bright for the joint venture: “We are starting off in the best possible position and are well positioned to take advantage of any new opportunities,” he said.
Glanbia chairman Liam Herlihy said the vote concluded an historic and transformative process for the co-op and its members.
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