CANEGROWERS Mackay Area Committee Chairman Paul Schembri has welcomed the news that a 75 per cent majority of grower/shareholders has approved a proposal put by German sugar producer, Nordzucker AG, to secure the future of Mackay Sugar.
Mr Schembri was present when announcement that the required number of Mackay Sugar’s 800 sugarcane grower/shareholders had voted ‘yes’ was made at an Extraordinary General Meeting at the Mackay Entertainment Centre.
“It is a real confidence booster, not only for the industry but also for the whole business community that services the industry in Mackay," he said. “Growers have shown the courage to back the deal in order to secure the future of their crop and stabilise the industry after several years of uncertainty."
“The decision to partner with Nordzucker will see welcome funds directed to investment in the company’s three mills to upgrade their performance and boost their reliability so as to ensure crops can be crushed reliably in an efficient, shorter season length.
“This will be a huge relief for growers who have been living with great uncertainty after several seasons of poor milling performance with breakdowns and crops left in the paddock. It will hopefully bring to a rapid and positive close the questions about the company’s overall financial viability after it laid bare its perilious financial situation in 2017.
“Growers will retain a 30 per cent shareholding in return for Nordzucker’s capital investment in the company to undertake capital and maintenance works on the mills.
“The funding will also repay the $2/t grower levy in two tranches. The certainty that that money will now be returned will be a huge weight off growers’ minds. I thank the growers for their financial contribution to the company. For many, it has not been an easy financial burden to bear.”
Mr Schembri said that CANEGROWERS Mackay was pleased to have played a role in the process to secure the successful outcome.
The vote brings to a close the complex and protracted negotiations between all parties over two years.
Mr Schembri said he looked forward to the days ahead of working with Mackay Sugar’s new Board and management.
“Nordzucker is a good fit for Mackay Sugar as it has been a grower owned sugar company for 180 years in the German industry,” he said. “Mackay growers and Nordzucker are now in a mutually dependant working partnership. Nordzucker may have the controlling 70 per cent interest but their investment needs to be backed by good communications and working closely and harmoniously with the growers.”