News

Doubt over home for estimated $2.7 million in undistributed GIC Ltd funds

Terry Sim, October 6, 2017

UNALLOCATED funds from the wind-up of Graziers’ Investment Company Ltd – expected to total about $2.7 million — should be shared among its known wool grower owners, a major shareholder has proposed.

GIC shareholders will vote on October 11 on a board recommendation to voluntarily wind-up the company and place it in the hands of liquidators Andrew Hewitt and Ahmed Bise.

If more than 75 per cent of the eligible shareholder votes cast by the October 11 general meeting in Melbourne support winding the company up, the liquidators would then be entrusted to finalise the distribution of about $20 million in capital left over from the sale of GIC assets.

GIC shareholders who have been located are expected to receive about $9.55 per share in about four months, subject to wind-up approval and tax clearance.

However, company managing director Elaine Beever has told Sheep Central that shareholders representing about $2.7 million, or about 13 percent of the $20 million to be distributed, may not be able to be allocated.

Mrs Beever said it has been difficult to find all of the company’s shareholders.

“The number of shareholders that we don’t the whereabouts of is about 5000, somewhere between 5000 and 6000.

“They’ve either moved and they’ve not updated their address or they’ve deceased, or they might have been under a company name and that company has now liquidated – there are a lot of reasons for not knowing where they are,” she said.

“We’ve put out notices on our website, chairman Barry Walker has done a couple of telephone interviews, we’ve used the wool grower groups to send out notices, so we are doing our best to reach out to them as a whole.

“But I doubt very much that we are going to reach every single one of them, that’s not going to eventuate,” she said.

“So what we have done is we have written to the Minister for Agriculture (Barnaby Joyce) to see if there is anything they can do to have the funds re-directed for the benefit of the wool industry rather than have it go into unclaimed monies, but we haven’t heard anything back at this point in time.”

Mrs Beever said the issue of undistributed funds will be handled by the liquidators under current legislation, if they are appointed.

“We’re not in a position to do what we like with the funds; we are bound by ASIC and by the Corporations Act, so by law people that can’t be located, their monies got to unclaimed monies in the State Revenue Office.”

GIC shareholders would still be entitled to the unallocated funds for a period of time, she said.

Grower bodies should lobby Agriculture Minister Joyce

Mrs Beever said any industry bodies wanted the undistributed shareholders funds to go back to the industry thet should lobby Mr Joyce.

However, GIC shareholder and president of the Australian Wool Growers Association Robert McBride said the undistributed funds should be shared equally among the GIC shareholders who have been located. He is a director of AJ and PA McBride which holds 3113 GIC shares.

“The industry should decide, at the end of the day it is our industry.

“Why would you give it to a bureaucrat, why would you bog it down?” Mr McBride said.

“Find the home as best you can, but at the end of the day get it to the people who paid for it, but don’t give it to any other bureaucrats.

“Find the descendants, for that absolutely small select few (who can’t be found) apportion it between the other shareholders.”

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said if the Minister is being engaged to determine where the money from unallocated shares of the Graziers Investment Company should be distributed, WPA believes that he should definitely be liaising with the wool industry to ensure that these monies are distributed in the fairest way possible.

“Options for this disbursement could either be to industry organisations for work to further industry good or returned to those shareholders that have been identified; however, WPA does not hold a firm view on either of these options.”

Graziers’ Investment Company Limited was previously known as Australian Wool Services Limited, the successor to the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation, which once had The Woolmark Company Pty Ltd and Australian Wool Innovation Limited as subsidiaries. AWI was de-merged from AWS in 2002 and The Woolmark Company was sold to AWI in 2007.

GIC Ltd has been responsible for concluding the legacy issues inherited from its predecessors and managing the wind-down of its remaining interests. There are 36,594 wool grower shareholders in GIC, mostly in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria, who holding 2,093,586 issued shares. Most shareholders (30,877) hold up to 100 shares, but major shareholders include Twynam Pastoral Co (4463), John Swire and Sons (4215), Lynoch Pty Ltd (3890), NM Rural Enterprises (3225) and Emanuel Exports (3213).

Shareholders can check their details with the company’s share registrar, Link Market Services, either online at www.linkmarketservices.com.au; or by email to [email protected]; or calling them on 1300 55 44 74 (Toll free within Australia).

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