Boost for small co-ops under Ornua ‘unlisted plc’ proposal

A number of small cooperatives could see greater representation at top level in Ornua, should a restructuring proposal be approved, AgriLand understands.

The restructuring process, confirmed to be “ongoing” by Ornua, has the Ornua board considering proposals being put to it at the moment.

It is believed that one proposal gaining the most traction would see Ornua transition from a cooperative to an unlisted plc.

Under the proposal, tabled by Dairygold, a certain degree of ownership would be put into the hands of farmers directly, with 20% of shares in the entity – worth more than €100 million – proposed to be given to farmer suppliers of Ornua.

The cooperatives would retain the other 80% ownership in Ornua, industry sources confirmed to AgriLand.

Under the tabled proposal, a new board structure has also been fielded. This would see a board consisting of: five independent members; an Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) representative; the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) representative; and possibly a delegate from the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS).

In addition, five board members would be elected by the co-op industry that are direct processors.

Such members would be elected from an outer board consisting of the co-ops that are trading through Ornua and the co-ops that have shareholdings in the entity.

This would allow approximately 30 smaller cooperatives which are not directly processing milk but nonetheless have shareholdings to be part of the election process, and have greater involvement in Ornua’s top table composition.

The restructuring process is believed to have been activated by Glanbia’s recent move into the US market with its brand Truly Grass Fed.

To stay in line with competition law, it was deemed necessary for co-op top brass to take a step back from the board of Ornua.