AACo’s celebrity endorsement
Last week’s Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) annual general meeting in Darwin featured something of an endorsement message for the big beef business’ activities from one of the world's richest men, technology leader turned billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates.
Chairman, Donald McGauchie, briefed investors with comments from Gates following his late 2016 visit to its “Wylarah” aggregation near Surat in Central Queensland.
The Microsoft founder wrote: "I was impressed by how high-tech the whole process was ... (AACo) relies on cutting edge genomics to breed Wagyu beef cows, some of the most elite cattle in the world."
His visit was studying how to lift livestock productivity in third world countries.
The celebrity endorsement was not enough, however, to dampen a notable 21 per cent shareholder vote against a recommendation on executive pay rates at AACo, which diluted some of Mr McGauchie’s confidence.
The meeting did eventually approve the board’s remuneration report on a show of hands from shareholders.
ADM’s Wilmar stake rises
US crop commodities giant, Archer Daniels Midland Company, (ADM) has pushed its stake in Asia’s biggest agribusiness, Wilmar, to 25 per cent after recently spending about $120 million buying shares on the Singapore Exchange.
Wilmar has palm oil plantations, sugar and soybean crushing and refining and packaging plants and biodiesel operations in Asia, as well as eight Australian sugar mills responsible for about half the nation’s sugar supply.
Wilmar’s annual revenues top $41 billion.
ADM bought a share parcel offered by Wilmar’s co-founder and former executive deputy chairman, Martua Sitorus, lifting its shareholding from about 24.3pc.
Bega’s $139m profit
Bega Cheese has reported a near five-fold lift in after-tax statutory profit to $139 million for 2016-17, thanks largely to its $124m sale milk powder assets early this year.
Despite a seven per cent drop in overall milk production in Australia last financial year, Bega maintained its milk intake with the previous year after recruiting additional suppliers.
Executive chairman, Barry Irvin, said while the dairy industry was troubled by some high profile infant formula market setbacks in the past year and a “level of uncertainty” existed in the infant formula platform in Bega’s business, the company revenues had stabilised and positive business development continued.
Bega’s past financial year was a busy one on the corporate front.
It included the popular acquisition of Mondelez Australia’s grocery product range such as Vegemite and other Kraft spreads (concluded on July 4), the sale of the two infant formula assets to Mead Johnson and a successful $173m capital raising.