Farmland and Cenex Harvest States accelerate merger

by Teresa Acklin
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Members of Farmland Industries, Inc. and Cenex Harvest States Cooperatives will vote Nov. 23 on a merger of the two cooperatives. If approved, the new entity — United Country Brands — would begin operation next March 1.

The boards of directors of each company approved terms of the consolidation in early September meetings in Denver, Colorado, U.S. The boards met again Sept. 22 to sign the formal documents enabling them to present the consolidation to their memberships for final approval. The membership vote will follow information meetings to be held Oct. 7-Nov. 12 in 37 cities.

The original merger plan announced in May called for a June 1, 2000 completion date. "This accelerated schedule will allow for faster capture of the synergies and savings expected from the new company," Farmland and Cenex Harvest States said in September.

Under the approved general agreement, Bob Honse, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Farmland, would be chief executive officer of United Country Brands through Dec. 31, 2003. John Johnson, president of Cenex, would be president of the consolidated company until Jan 1, 2004, when he will succeed Mr. Honse as c.e.o.

United Country Brands would be based in Kansas City, the current headquarters of Farmland Industries. The new company's livestock operation would also be based in Kansas City, while the grain and energy business is to be based in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, U.S., the current headquarters of Cenex. The agronomy operations would have offices in both locations, and the location of the cooperative's feed business headquarters has not been decided.

According to the 1999 "Grain and Milling Annual" published by Sosland Publishing Co., Farmland operates 30 grain storage facilities with a combined storage capacity of 178.2 million bushels (4.9 million tonnes); Cenex operates 156 storage facilities with a total capacity of 146.1 million bushels (4 million tonnes).