Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is unlikely to shift its listing to the New Zealand stock exchange this year, saying it wants to give itself “adequate time” to consult with its shareholders.
Last year, Zespri, now listed in the Unlisted Securities Exchange (USX), told its shareholders that strengthening the grower shareholding of the co-operative had been a focus.
One option to do so was a listing on the New Zealand stock exchange (NZX).
Under the co-operative’s rules, shareholders are limited to those individuals or entities who own or lease a NZ kiwifruit orchard.
At the time, chair Bruce Cameron said the board had discussed a range of initiatives proposed to be put in place this year and in 2024 to help improve grower share alignment and ownership.
Those initiatives will be consulted on early next year. An NZX listing is a prerequisite for many of those initiatives because they occur on an ongoing basis.
For example, he said, one is a targeted dividend reinvestment scheme.
But Cameron said in an update to shareholders that the board has made good progress on understanding potential options to best strengthen the grower shareholding of Zespri.
“As we have progressed our plans to address shareholder alignment, it has become clear that an NZX listing in 2023 is unlikely, in order to give us adequate time to continue these conversations.”
Cameron said they’d seen some challenging weather conditions in recent weeks, but packing of this season’s SunGold Kiwifruit crop “is now virtually complete and we are approaching the halfway point in terms of Green Kiwifruit”.
At this point of the season, about 15% of the crop has been delivered to customers.
“Market feedback from our initial shipments has been encouraging, indicating the efforts made through the Industry Quality Action Plan have put us in a stronger position starting this year compared to last season.”
However, while there has been a promising start, it is critical that the co-op keeps its focus “on delivering great quality fruit throughout the season”.
That includes efforts across the supply chain to ensure the co-op can identify and manage any emerging quality concerns and meet customer expectations of consistently good quality fruit, Cameron said.
Zespri’s shares last traded at $6 per share, down from $8.96 per share this time last year.