STAND-OFF: Mackay Sugar faces last hurdle in takeover bid
MACKAY Sugar is scrambling to ensure the last remaining growers agree to the final hurdle under Nordzucker's takeover bid, after 95 per cent of grower members voted in favour of the deal at Monday's Extraordinary General Meeting.
Following a resounding 'yes' vote, the last remaining growers will need to agree to changing the cane supply payment formula from PRS to CCS.
As of Sunday 773 growers had backed the change, leaving 43 outstanding.
But the clock is ticking for the remaining five per cent of growers to be convinced of the switch, with Mackay Sugar chief executive Mark Day stating on Monday night the grower co-op hoped for finalisation by the end of today.
"Now that the vote has passed, we've got one more condition precedent to satisfy and that's converting the PRS payment system to CCS, so almost 95 per cent of the tonnage has already signed onto that," Mr Day said.
"In the next two days we need to try to work with that other five per cent to get approval."
Pioneer Valley cane farmer Gary Parkinson, who has signed onto the CCS change, said he and other growers were still torn over whether they had made the right decision.
"Those who haven't signed, that's their choice," Mr Parkinson said.
"They should stick up for what they believe in, they've got freedom of choice."
He said those growers who were against the change believed they would get less money for their cane by going to the CCS formula.
But others, including next-generation Mount Martin cane grower Tate Siddle, have expressed their frustration over the reluctance from some growers to accept the change.
"I want to go on the farm and I think the people who are going to vote against things like the change to CCS - especially those who do it just because they want to go against everyone else - well, I think we should cancel their cane supply agreements," he said.
"We need to see ... the transaction through because at least this way, what we have is worth something and we can make a go of a future."
Once the final condition is met, German sugar giant Nordzucker is expected to take over 70 per cent of Mackay Sugar from August 1 with a $120 million investment.
"Nordzucker will appoint three directors as controlling member directors and myself," Mr Day said.
"Then we will call for nominations for three grower directors, so there's a two to three-week period for that changeover to occur."
Industry and community leaders have welcomed the resounding 'yes' result from Monday's EGM, attended by more than 600 grower shareholders.
Canegrowers Mackay area committee chairman Paul Schembri said the outcome showed clear, overwhelming support for the takeover bid.
"Given that the result was so strong, I think there's a mood that people now just want to get on with this and I think this creates a lot of goodwill, particularly among the growers and Nordzucker," he said.
Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert described the result as a "win" for growers, workers and the local economy.
"I'm proud to have played a role in this by securing a $14 million contribution from the State Government to help Mackay Sugar attract an international investor," Mrs Gilbert said.
"As the local MP, nothing is more important to me than protecting local jobs. Our local mills employ more than 800 people during peak season, so backing (Mr Day) on this was a no brainer for me."
The Australian Sugar Milling Council said the historic vote was a sign of "a bright future for Australian sugar".