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Seeka board tells shareholders not to vote for director

Thursday 12th April 2012

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The board of Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, the grower which aborted a merger with rival Satara Cooperative last year, is recommending shareholders vote against the election of director, Craig Greenlees due to a conflict of interest.

The board is looking to elect three members at its annual shareholder’s meeting later this month. The other candidates include the re-election of Stuart Burns and the election of John Burke, both of which the board supports.

“While Craig has many of the attributes sought for directors and has deep industry experience, the board considers that Craig has a significant conflict of interest in joining the board,” the board said in its notice for the annual meeting.

Greenlees is a shareholder and executive director of DMS Progrowers, a direct competitor of Seeka.

“Craig is very involved in that business and the board does not believe it appropriate to have any directors that are on day-to-day basis competing with, and potentially acting against, Seeka’s interests,” the board said.

The Te Puke based company is under no obligation to fill the eighth board position at this annual meeting. The board is recommending shareholders leave the position vacant until a suitable replacement is found.

A search is currently underway for candidates with a background in chartered accounting to head the company’s audit and risk committee.

In February, the grower announced it had sunk into the red after writing down the value of its orchards and goodwill as an Italian vine bacteria outbreak clouds the industry’s future. It reported a loss of $7.1 million, in the 12 months ended Dec. 31, compared with $6.4 million profit, in the nine months ended Dec. 31 2010 when it changed its balance date.

The bottom line was hit by a $9.7 million impairment charge on the value of its gold kiwifruit orchards, and an $8.8 million write-down in the value of its goodwill due to the Pseudomona Syringae pv actinadiae bacterium.

Shares in the company are currently trading at $1.80 apiece.

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