Staff A farmer from south-central Saskatchewan and another from South Australia plan not to stay on Viterra s board of directors past March, amid shareholder criticisms of the board s expertise.
Vic Bruce of Tuxford, Sask. and Paul Daniel of Balaklava, South Australia have both said they will not stand for reelection to the board at the grain giant s annual shareholders meeting, scheduled for March 8, 2012 in Calgary.
The announcement of the departures came shortly before a stinging statement from Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the province s pension and investment fund, which with 17 per cent of the shares, is Viterra s largest shareholder. AIMCo questioned whether the current board has the skills or expertise to meet the Company s leadership needs as a growing international agribusiness.
In a statement Nov. 1, AIMCo said Alberta Investment Management Corporation will not accept Viterra s vague plans for board renewal, further platitudes about seeking shareholder input, or closed-door processes on important governance issues.
After eighteen months of dialogue, AIMCo does not believe the current Viterra directors are prepared to enact meaningful change for the benefit of all stakeholders.
The AIMCo statement came after an Oct. 28 release from Viterra, which announced the departure of the two farmer-directors as part of a process of setting a slate of proposed nominees for its board of directors that reflects Viterra s commitment to ensure that the evolving needs of the company are addressed.
Viterra said that two internationally recognized search firms have been retained to assist in finding suitable replacements, and that it will also continue to seek input from Viterra s shareholders and other important stakeholders on the appropriate composition of the board.
Bruce s history with Viterra dates back to 1987, when he served as a delegate for Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (1987-95, 1997-2005). He joined the company s board of directors in 2002, when SaskPool s board was still largely farmer-elected.
Daniel also came to Viterra s board through mergers, as a founding director of South Australian fertilizer company Direct Fertilizers (1997-2004). That company later merged into grain handler ABB, of which he became a board member in 2006. Viterra took over ABB in 2009.