No surprises at DFB creditors’ meeting

APART from a handful of ‘difficult’ questions, the line was drawn - comparatively quietly - under the affairs of Dairy Farmers of Britain today (Monday, September 7).

A small percentage of  members, ex-members and creditors turned up at the venue at Bolton Wanderers football club complex to hear managing receiver Stephen Oldfield present PWC’s already-published report – and answer questions.

Clearly, many people are not going to get the definitive answers they want, to questions which they believe should have been asked of the board during the ‘life’ of the co-op.

The purchase of ACC and subsequent related management decisions predictably generated much discussion.

Mr Oldfield said he got the impression from the tone of many of the questions, producers felt transparency was lacking in the running of the business.

“But I must say, how do you do it (achieve the degree of transparency of information which members of this co-op felt should have been) given the commercial sensitivity of running any commercial business?”

He suggested the eventual findings of the Efra committee investigation, in front of which he too will appear, might be able to add some value for other farmer owned co-operatives in relation to the governance structure which they maintain.

On Monday the bulk of questions related to events leading up to receivership – the managing receivers’ role from then on, and the presentation of the report, apparently raising few hackles.

In fact the line has not yet been drawn under the failed business. Mr Oldfield said there remained several issues to be addressed, not least the sale of three dairies.

It looked unlikely they could be sold as working dairies and in the present economic climate, re-development sales were going to be difficult.

It was a matter for the bank – still expected to be facing a loss of £4 million or so – how to proceed.

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