Fengrain members wary of Centaur merger

SCORES OF Fengrain members have signed a petition expressing concern over news that a merger with Centaur is on the cards.

Northants grower Anthony Boardman gathered 83 names to force an extraordinary general meeting on the merger, which he said was presented to members as a certainty.

He fears the merger will expose members to Centaur debt and dilute levels of service.

The deal could harm members of Fengrain’s storage arm, who rely on the co-op to sell their grain and fill the store with 23,000t of non-member grain, he fears.

“We feel we are giving our company away for nothing,” said Mr Boardman.

“We see Fengrain as a strong regional player in the grain market offering a premium service to consumers and customers, with a future as an independent company.

“If members feel we are too small to compete, there are plenty of other companies who could offer a better deal.”

Chairman John Heading said he was astonished by the reaction and outlined plans to consult farmers before any deal was struck.

There will be four meetings to advise members on the merger talks, as well as an EGM on July 27 to approve it.

Centaur chairman Richard Beldam dismissed concerns over debt as hysterical nonsense. The co-op even had a £3.5m current account surplus last June, he added.

He urged farmers to raise their concerns once they had the full proposals on the table, rather than reacting to rumour and flawed information.

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