AWB ship set to float

23 Feb, 2001 10:00 PM
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NATIONAL wheat exporter AWB Ltd is planning an August date for its public listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.

After working to fulfil ASX listing requirements over the past 18 months, AWB Ltd now has six months to prepare a prospectus to become the fully-fledged public company it has intended since its inception.

The planned float hit troubled waters last February, at the newly corporatised AWB Ltd's first annual general meeting in Perth.

Constitutional changes required under ASX rules were rejected by angry growers, throwing into doubt AWB Ltd's listing timetable - originally targeted to be with 12-24 months of the 1999, July 1 corporatisation.

But chief executive officer Andrew Lindberg said amendments made to allow the organisation to comply with the listing rules meant there were now no constitutional barriers, and the move was then a decision of directors.

AWB Ltd now faces a busy time preparing to issue a prospectus, and undergoing due diligence and disclosure requirements, and will also be making decisions on items such as share loyalty schemes in time for the intended August float.

Ahead of that though, AWB Ltd is seeking other changes to the constitution to assist with the removal of the $150 million investment cap.

While not essential for the listing process, the AWB Ltd has been actively campaigning for the scrapping of capital limitation, on which growers will vote at the March 15 annual general meeting.

"We are arguing to remove the capital limitation because it will affect shareholder value," he said.

Mr Lindberg said the requirement for AWB Ltd to retain $450 million to back the national pool was unnecessary, and did not allow adequate capital to properly grow and expand the company.

Peak grower body, the Grains Council of Australia, have already approved the resolution, given the grower-elected Board that has now been put in place.

GCA president John Lush said growers support for the cap's removal at the AGM was important, in order to see their shares reach full value on the ASX.

"Share values represent growers money, and growers will be the losers if the values are negatively impacted upon," he said.

Mr Lush said growers need not be concerned that the Pools would be put at risk by removing the $150 million, non-pool investment limit, as they were protected under the constitution for AWB (International) Ltd, and AWB Ltd.

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