Ex-SPC chair makes bid

By Geoff Adams

A former SPC chairman has lodged an expression of interest in the sale of the fruit processing company following the announcement by owner Coca-Cola Amatil that it will be offered for sale.

Sunshine Coast lawyer Haset Sali, who was voted off the SPC board in 1990 in a major boardroom coup, is believed to be interested in returning to SPC.

Mr Sali was a director for 14 years, chairman for eight years and still has family connections with the Goulburn Valley.

In a story published in the Sunshine Coast Daily, Mr Sali said he had lodged an expression of interest and his concern was to see the business return to being a market-driven company.

‘‘SPC has a great heritage and with the right leadership I believe it can have a great future for the benefit of the region’s orchardists, suppliers, staff, shareholders and Australia’s economy,’’ Mr Sali told the newspaper.

He said the proposed sale of SPC provided an opportunity for investors with an interest in leading SPC into a new growth phase, capitalising on global interest in the natural goodness of fruit and clean nutritional products.

The story said Mr Sali was now waiting for a date to conduct a due diligence and inspection of the plant and equipment.

Mr Sali’s final years with SPC were marked by some disagreement among growers about how the company was being run.

In his governorship the company had achieved profit in a number of years, but in 1990 recorded an $11million loss. Neighbouring Ardmona Fruit Products made a $1million profit in the same period.

The company went on to recover under new management and with the support of employees who took a pay cut.

In recent years, new owner Coca-Cola Amatil has been unable to extract a profit from the business and has struggled to take the costs out of the operation and compete with cheaper imports.

The company was also unable to get governments to commit to their departments giving preferential purchasing to the Australian product.