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The same, but different

Rachel DonkinThe West Australian
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After 12 months of planning, countless grower surveys and millions of dollars reportedly spent on corporate advisers, the country’s biggest grains marketer has decided on a business model that it says will finally end the debate over its structure: a “modernised” status quo.

CBH Group yesterday announced plans to transform itself into an “enhanced” co-operative over the coming months as part of moves to position the business as a viable competitor in an increasingly globalised, deregulated grain marketing environment.

In a bid to settle a debate that has dogged the billion-dollar business in recent years, CBH surveyed a quarter of its 4700 shareholders, sent staff on a global “study tour” of some of the world’s leading co-ops and hauled in corporate advisers to devise a long-term strategy for the business.

CBH Group chairman Neil Wandel said yesterday the selected model — essentially a modernised version of the incumbent, grower-owned, “non-profit” co-operative — would settle the question of the best long-term strategy for the business, although it is unclear how the vocal minority in favour of large-scale reform will respond to the announcement.

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