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Fonterra shareholders to vote on board cut

NZN 16/05/2016 Paul McBeth

Fonterra's farmer shareholders will vote next month on whether to accept governance changes to trim the board by two directors and install a new selection process.

The co-operative will hold a special meeting on June 10 in Hamilton to amend its constitution allowing it to cut the board to 11 from 13, and introduce a new system to elect farmer directors.

Some farmers have been lobbying for a smaller board, and the proposed changes will see seven farmer directors and four independents, compared to the nine farmers and four independents currently.

The chair is elected by the board and will have to be a farmer director.

The new voting process for farmer directors would ditch the single transferable voting system in favour of a nominations committee putting forward candidates who would need at least 50 per cent support to join the board.

"If the co-operative is to move forward and stay focused on delivering wealth to its farmers every month of the year, we need to move past the annual distraction of an electioneering process," chairman John Wilson said.

"The recommendation has unanimous support from the board. It also has strong majority support from your shareholders' council."

A majority of Fonterra's farmer shareholders supported a proposal from fellow shareholders and former directors Colin Armer and Greg Gent to reduce the board to nine at the annual meeting last October but the vote fell short of the 75 per cent needed.

If the proposals get the support required next month, the board will be reduced over the next two years, while a review of the shareholders' council will be shared with farmers at the 2016 annual meeting.

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