50th Anniversary Annual General Meeting, 2014

The 50th Anniversary Annual General Meeting was supported by 10 Shareholders as well as management and key staff.

The Chairman and Managing Director reported on the year’s events with an emphasis on the extremely difficult drought conditions that was an unfortunate blemish on the 50 year Anniversary.

Mr Colin Hoey, who was unopposed, was reappointed as a director for a further term after his reappointment with a vote from the floor.

In General Business a number of questions were raised from the floor for comment.

“The Chairman’s report states a profit of $697K coming largely from the sale of non-core assets, what was the operating profit / loss?”

The actual operating loss was $963,000 of which $642,000 was depreciation which is substantially higher as a result of the $4.5 million in investment to refurbish the operation over the last 3 years. Additionally, the worst production season in memory did leave a short position on Mungbean sales of approximately 1000mt that had to be traded out at a gross loss which was a significant factor.

(To clarify this point, Bean Growers Australia Ltd made a Net Loss before tax of ($682,551) from operating activities after all asset sales were deducted)

The shareholder went on to express his disagreement with the board's decision to pay a $2.00 dividend on the grounds that the money could prove useful in the event of a series of bad seasons.

The Chairman pointed out that the company would still have a very strong balance sheet after the dividend was paid and that it was the board's preference that individual shareholders make their own decisions about how surplus money is used. Various investment opportunities had been examined but nothing offering good performance, security and broad shareholder appeal had been identified.

The shareholder also questioned the reasoning behind selling the Agriservices premises.

The Chairman responded by saying that in the same way that Ruralco, Wesfarmers, Woolworths or any other commercially savvy business didn’t want to own property based on the return on equity, BGA in the same way didn’t think these properties were a good long term investment for the shareholders. 

Director, Ian Broadfoot also commented on the reasons behind the Board’s decisions, “Many shareholders purchased their shares for $1.00 through the revolving levy system and that in the absence of new, sound investments, the decision to pay the dividend “De-risks” this original investment. The Board did not want the responsibility of investing BGA’s surplus funds when the money could be returned for the shareholders to make their own investment decisions, unlocking value in franking credits in the process.”

Another shareholder queried the process for sale and transfer of shares and whether such arrangements were transparent and appropriate. He also suggested the inclusion of the names of the 20 biggest shareholders.

The Chairman explained that being a Publicly Unlisted Company we are bound by stringent rules governing the way in which shares are bought and sold and this board takes the rules extremely seriously and never operate outside the parameter’s that are effectively set by ASIC. In fact the board themselves often impose more arduous restrains than required especially on any shareholders that are also board members. In the past year there have been very few share sale transactions and none involving directors or staff. An up to date schedule of buyers and sellers can be obtained from the Secretary. The share price is entirely a matter for transaction participants.  Although buyers and sellers are listed they are not always active possibly because of the differences in value expectations. Directors pointed out that it can take some effort to buy and sell in a limited market. It is not sufficient to register interest and just hope something happens. Shareholders intending to buy or sell should review the recent performance of the company, the seasonal prospects and be aware that the payment of the 50th anniversary dividend has reduced BGA's NTA and franking credit pool. The company itself does not express a view about share trading values.

(To clarify this point Bean Growers Australia Ltd has been advised that we are not legally advised to post in full, in part or provide a link on our website referring to shareholder information. Shareholder information is available by application to the Company Secretary.)

The shareholder also inquired as to why we do not print the salaries of the senior executives in the Annual report.

The Chairman responded that it is not a requirement; an aggregated amount of the executives is available in the full report by request. Also given that Kingaroy is a small town it doesn’t seem appropriate that additional disclosure be made given the personal nature of the detail. Additionally, it needs to be noted that this is not a high paying industry and the staff are paid to market and in fact given the diligence they display they were certainly not being overpaid if that was reasoning for the question.

In winding up the meeting, the Chairman said that the business was in good shape, its facilities were as modern as any on the eastern seaboard and the professionalism of the staff was second to none. All that is needed is a break in the seasons and the business will make good progress.

Those attending the AGM were invited to stay and share a meal with members of the staff and board.

Posted on December 19, 2014 .