In late January, in the absence of a higher bid, the board of Richmond Ltd, Hawkes Bay, North Island, one of New Zealand’s largest meat groups, recommended their shareholders to accept the takeover bid by rivals PPCS, the South Island farmers’ cooperative. However, it is still not plain sailing for PPCS.

First there is the blocking action of Graeme Lowe who started out with a processing plant in Hastings, North Island, and last October bought Colyer Mair, the country’s largest leather processor, for $35 million from Richina Pacific. He began with an 8% stake in Richmond and later upped it to nearly 10%.

Another of their customers, North Meats, have also taken 4.3% of the stock. In addition, another 15.3% is shared between staff, overseas customers and Waitara Farm Holdings Ltd.

Richmond had earlier complained to the Takeovers Panel saying the bid did not meet the Takeover Code’s 90% minimum acceptance decision. However, PPCS received High Court confirmation a week ago that they did not need to attain 90% to proceed and their offer remains open until February 26.

Richmond’s chairman, Sam Robinson has made no recommendation to the shareholders in his role of director but has made it clear he does not intend to sell his own small holding of 32,000 shares. Robinson believes their company have a duty to find a higher bidder if they can.

He is encouraging shareholders to sit on the offer document for a ‘couple of days’ to reflect on the directors’ recommendation, the independent report by Ferrier Hodgson and the outcome of the complaint to the Takeovers Panel.

The panel are due to meet on Thursday January 30 to consider Richmond’s concern that the PPCS offer excludes holders of Richmond’s convertible notes as well as not meeting the 90% code.