26/03/2008 - 22:00

Birney's carbon credit move

26/03/2008 - 22:00


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Former state opposition leader, Matt Birney, has teamed up with one of Australia’s biggest corporate farming groups to establish a new business in the emerging industry of carbon offsets.

Birney's carbon credit move

Former state opposition leader, Matt Birney, has teamed up with one of Australia’s biggest corporate farming groups to establish a new business in the emerging industry of carbon offsets.

Mr Birney, who announced in January that he would be quitting politics at the next election to take up a career in the corporate world, has accepted a role as non-executive chairman at Subiaco-based Carbon Conscious Ltd.

The company plans to producing carbon credits through the planting of mallee eucalypt trees throughout the Wheatbelt.

It is looking to list on the Australian Securities Exchange in May, releasing its prospectus earlier this month for an initial public offer of 20 million shares at an issue price of 40 cents per share to raise up to $8 million.

The company is closely associated with managed investment scheme project manager Australian Agricultural Contracts Ltd, which, through its Grain Co-Production product, has established a corporate share-farming agreement between investors and about 115 WA grain farmers.

Launching its project in 2004 with a raising of $550,000, AACL’s 2007 project raised $20 million with about 150,000 hectares of wheat planted.

The 2008 project expects to grow to more than 250,000ha of wheat and barley involving about 200 farmers.

As well as sharing a common head office, a number of Carbon Conscious directors also hold management positions within AACL.

Carbon Conscious executive director Daniel Stevens has been AACL’s general manager since 2006, executive director Ric Collins has worked with AACL for the past two years as farmer contract manager, and non-executive director Nadaisan Logaraj is a director of AACL.

At the time of announcing his retirement, Mr Birney said it was his intention to pursue one or two nonexecutive directorships followed by an executive directorship in the corporate sector post-politics.

As outlined in the prospectus, Mr Birney will receive director’s fees of $50,000 a year, and holds 256,250 shares and 300,000 options.

Mr Stevens told WA Business News the company would have access to AACL’s strong relationships with WA farmers as well as access to large tracts of land.

“We saw this as an opportunity that fits in well with our other businesses,” he said.

Mr Stevens said mallee plantings could be incorporated with grain crops and other farming enterprises through belt planting, providing an additional source of income for farmers and assisting with salinity control.

“We’re looking at doing something here in partnership with farmers,” he said.

“We’re allowing farmers to be part of the carbon market in a way that’s complementary to their existing business.” The company will commence its first trial planting this winter.

It is currently in the process of gaining accreditation under the Australian Greenhouse Office Greenhouse Friendly program, which is expected to be finalised by mid 2008.

Carbon Conscious will join fellow ASX-listed company CO2 Group, Australia’s largest listed carbon offset company accredited by the federal government, in the emerging industry.

CO2 Group Ltd has signed multimillion dollar offset agreements with major emitters such as Qantas and Woodside Petroleum.

It also has an agreement with WA-based Oil Mallee Company, which will provide CO2 Group with exclusive rights to use its knowledge of achieving successful mallee estates dedicated to offsetting greenhouse emissions.

CO2 Group is also a major shareholder of OMC and has one director on the board.



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