AWB director Chris Moffet has been asked to explain his outspoken comments in Farm Weekly last week,

25 Jun, 2007 08:45 PM

The WA farmer, who runs a 16,000ha wheat and sheep enterprise in Morawa, said he would resign if the break fee, believed to be worth up to $30 million, was implemented.

Last year the fee became a subject of extreme scrutiny after it was revealed the charge was expected to cost growers hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Mr Moffet¹s actions in raising public debate over the issue have raised the ire of AWB chairman Brendan Stewart, who issued a stern letter last week, suggesting Mr Moffet¹s Farm Weekly interview had breached company communication guidelines and protocols, and its media policy.

He also claimed that the issue went much deeper than breaching company policies and was against the best interests of the company as a whole.

Mr Stewart¹s letter said that the actions had also made it difficult for the board to work cohesively on the company¹s future structure.

Farm Weekly understands Mr Stewart¹s letter was circulated to all directors of AWB Ltd, promising the matter would be raised further at the company¹s next Board meeting on June 27.

The break fee will become a critical issue in the event that the farmer groups involved with the Wheat Export Marketing Alliance (WEMA), responsible for establishing the new entity, elect to pursue a demerged AWB International as the basis for the new company.

AWB managing director Gordon Davis said at the company¹s annual general meeting earlier in the year that the break fee was not worth the reported figures that put it at hundreds of millions of dollars, and was closer to $30 million.

However, the actual figure is yet to be determined.

Mr Davis said the $30m cost was expected to be reduced over time, as long term rail contacts, IT systems and other grain marketing services depreciated.

In the event the de-merger process moves forward, it is understood the break fee would form part of the overall negotiations between the two boards of AWB with the final figure and conditions due to be made public prior to a shareholder vote.

Mr Moffet¹s stance on the break fee is believed to have received support from a number of single desk supporters and grower based organisations, including the Wheat Growers Association.


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