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Heinz gets golden, as shareholders sell the c -

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Heinz gets golden, as shareholders sell the circle

The World Today - Tuesday, 2 December , 2008 12:42:00

ELEANOR HALL: Another Australian food brand will soon be in foreign hands.

Shareholders in the Queensland farmers' co-operative Golden Circle, have voted in favour of a
takeover by the US Heinz corporation.

The company is being sold for nearly $300-million. But many growers say it is a bitter-sweet deal,
as Donna Field reports.

DONNA FIELD: Golden Circle started as a farmers' cooperative on Queensland's Sunshine Coast in
1947.

Pineapple Grower Murray Pike says the decision to sell to Heinz is sad.

MURRAY PIKE: My father was an initial shareholder in Golden Circle and here we are now selling the
business to an overseas company. But you know it was just after years and years and years of bad
management and bad decisions and, you know, we're probably lucky to get an offer to buy us out.

DONNA FIELD: Golden Circle is a household name, but the brand has lost market share in the past
decade and the company has struggled to turn a profit.

Chairman Phillip Cave says the Heinz buy-out is bitter-sweet.

PHILLIP CAVE: The growers are getting a 300 per cent increase in the price of the value of their
shares than they were 12 months ago so that's the sweet bit.

The bitter bit is wouldn't it be nice if it continued to be owned by the growers? The answer to
that is yes.

DONNA FIELD: Mr Cave says Heinz will re-build the business.

PHILLIP CAVE: Look, the world moves on and technology moves on and demands for capital are
increasing.

DONNA FIELD: The managing director of Heinz Australia, Peter Widdows says the 1,000 grower
shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the offer, which will mean million dollar payouts
for some farmers.

PETER WIDDOWS: We certainly have plans, yes, to grow the business, to invest in the brand and
increase marketing and we do have some early plans to take the brand overseas.

DONNA FIELD: And he says while there are no job guarantees, Heinz intends to keep the big Brisbane
Golden Circle canning facility.

He says consumers won't see any changes to the iconic Australian brand.

PETER WIDDOWS: It's still very much staffed by Australians, we use Australian products to make the
products so it's still got a very strong Australian heritage and culture.

DONNA FIELD: For pineapple grower Murray Pike it's the end of an era.

MURRAY PIKE: Golden Circle had been struggling for a long time, as producers for Golden Circle it's
been quite difficult over the last 15 years and I think people just sort of thought well here's an
opportunity to get some cash out of the business that we've put an awful lot into over the last 60
years.

DONNA FIELD: The Heinz takeover bid still needs to be approved by the Supreme Court in Queensland.
That formality is expected to take place next week.

ELEANOR HALL: Donna Field in Brisbane reporting.