7 June 2002

Rescue deals on for Viking

CENTAUR Grain has confirmed that it has agreed a rescue package with the receivers of collapsed grain co-op Viking Cereals.

Under the terms of the deal, sent to farmers on May 31, Centaur will make a payment to the receivers in lieu of any potential liabilities, reported to be up to £12m, on behalf of those members who accept the offer. This will have to be repaid over a period of up to five years.

An "equalisation payment scheme" will also compensate producers for delivered grain which has not yet been paid for, and for cereals subsequently sold below the Viking long pool price. Payment will be at a level equal to December 2001 values.

Centaur chairman, Richard Beldam, says this will lead to several positions, with some farmers receiving payment while others will remain with a balance to pay off.

Members have until June 21 to consider the offer which will be triggered by a 75% acceptance rate.

Some in the trade have questioned the extent of members liabilities, or even if they would be liable at all, but he says KPMG did not share that view. "They are convinced they have a case."

The NFU and a working group set up to protect members interests have already backed the plan, Mr Beldam adds. &#42