Tully Sugar increases mill offer

PROSERPINE growers say they are faced with uncertainty after the mill was placed in voluntary administration following its rejection of Tully Sugar/COFCO's latest offer on Sunday.

KordaMentha announced on Sunday that the Proserpine Mill was in voluntary administration after the board rejected Tully's $120 million offer earlier that day.

Tully yesterday increased its offer by $2 million, upping its cash offer price to $122 million, and confirmed that its legally binding offer remains in force in a letter to the mill's administrator KordaMentha.

Tully Sugar chief executive officer John King said the increase in offer price followed Tully's completion of an engineering assessment of Proserpine's assets and reflected the company's intention to maximise the distribution to members.

"Our price increase also reflects our strong desire to ensure the Proserpine community and growers do not suffer a long drawn-out process in resolving the sale of the mill," he said.

"We believe our offer gives Proserpine's security holders certainty of repayment and provides members with a clear financial offer that maximises their return."

Sucrogen has twice missed out on taking over ownership of the mill, failing to win the required 75% grower majority.

But Sucrogen chief executive officer Ian Glasson said he was happy to meet with the mill administrators to try to work out a deal.

"Sucrogen remains interested in buying Proserpine Sugar Mill," Mr Glasson said.

For Proserpine cane growers, it has been an ongoing saga that they want resolved quickly.

Proserpine grower Lindsay Alpmann said that he had had enough.

"I'm sick of it up to my back teeth," Mr Alpmann said.

"I think COFCO have worked on our vulnerabilities and have just played the waiting game until they are the last bidder standing.

"Growers are now faced with uncertainty and we just want our mill to be sold for the best offer."

Grower Tony Hinschen said it could be a positive thing the mill was under administrative control

"It would have been nice if this whole was already sorted out," Mr Hinschen said.

"I think it could be a good thing that the administrators have taken over, it is a fresh perspective and hopefully the will sell the mill to the best offer available and this whole thing will be over."

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