Major move as coop corporatises

MEMBERS of the Fremantle Fishermen’s Cooperative Society have voted for sweeping changes to the 53-year-old lobster processor, agreeing to a proposal to corporatise the business and rename it.

Following a ratification of the decisions on July 24, the newly named Blue Wave Seafood will become an unlisted public company.

The cooperative expects to take up to three months to assess the asset value of the company to effect a share split, though members are likely to receive about 170 new shares for each of their current $100 shares. At the moment each existing member can hold up to 500 shares.

The new company will also begin the hunt for capital, having targeted the need for about $5 million in new equity, largely to build a processing plant at Robb Jetty on land secured from the State Government in an agreement requiring it to start building by January 2002.

The changes pave the way for the company to put behind it several tough years where the need to offer members payouts has made it difficult to build a solid capital base.

A company structure also could herald the arrival of external share-holders.

Cooperative president Vito Paparella said Friday’s meeting had gone smoothly, following a big number of briefing sessions to the processors suppliers along the coast.

Mr Paparella said the new company was hoping to raise a significant amount of the capital required from fishermen, but said there were a number of alternatives if former members could not contribute the full amount.

“Hopefully the members put in a fair amount, if they do or they don’t it doesn’t matter,” he said.

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