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Richmond minorities dig in over PPCS offer

By Chris Hutching

Friday 7th February 2003

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Despite clearance from the High Court, the Takeovers Panel, an independent appraisal report and his board of directors, Richmond chairman Sam Robinson continued yesterday to counsel shareholder farmers about the dangers of accepting the $3.05-a-share takeover offer from PPCS.

Mr Robinson and some implacable minority Richmond shareholders appeared determined to fight regardless of the commercial reality of the dysfunctional listed meat processor whose board of directors has been split between the various factions involved in the five-year takeover battle.

The leader of the minority Bell group, Napier lawyer Robin Bell, yesterday refused to say whether he had other plans to stop the takeover.

He said his group had merely been a messenger uncovering the devious deeds of Dunedin-based PPCS during the battle.

He noted the concerns of farmer-shareholders about their relationship with PPCS and its business methods, and that the $3.05 offer was at the low end of a range considered fair in the independent appraisal report.

Meanwhile, PPCS has initiated its own campaign to win the hearts of Richmond farmers, holding meetings in hay barns with small groups. Chief operating officer Keith Cooper has been the public face of this campaign.

During the week, PPCS concluded an option arrangement with investment company Active Equities to buy shares at $3.50 each, taking its stake to 52%, although the acquired shares are subject to a High Court ruling ordering forfeiture of voting rights, which leaves PPCS with 42% of the voting rights in Richmond.

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