NSW Liberal Senator and Junee grain farmer Bill Heffernan said he was not about to tell CBH shareholders “what they can and can’t do” in voting to publicly list the farm-owned co-operative “but you can see the temptation”.
Senator Heffernan said the AGC corporatisation offer to CBH grower-shareholders was the same dilemma as that facing Sunrice in NSW.
“You will note, if you go through the press, that for some years I’ve been quoted as saying CBH will probably, inevitably corporatise,” he said.
“CBH has been a very successful, gilt-edged example of a successful co-op and the profits do go back to the growers.
“But eventually the directors will want to get a quid out of the co-op and commercialise it and the shareholders will decide to give the farm to the boys and the shares to the daughters.
“I can understand if you have shares in the co-op worth $1 million and the daughter needs a house, there’s a temptation to float it.
“If you have a successful co-op like CBH or SunRice as you get older you start to think ‘I’ve got to buy a house in a retirement village or down the coast or something and it’d be nice to cash out my shares’ and that’s always the temptation.”