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Cushing's crushing

Unitholders in the New Zealand Rural Property Trust have made a vital decision about the fund's future.

Tuesday, October 5th 1999, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

The New Zealand Rural Property Trust reached a significant milestone yesterday when unitholders voted to give away their redemption rights and close the fund.

At a special meeting in Wellington unitholders voted 83 per cent in favour of a motion to close the trust.

While there was considerable opposition to the proposal, it was almost a certainty going to be passed because of the trust's structure. Nearly a quarter of the voting power rests with a small number of unitholders who are either owned or aligned to the manager. That group's position is strengthened by the fact that any motion put before a meeting requires 75 per cent unitholder support and 50 per cent of unitholders must vote to achieve the necessary quorum.

New Zealand Rural Property Trust chairman Sir Selwyn Cushing says the "vote was a victory for commonsense and long-term vision."

"A trust based on a large and relatively illiquid asset like farmland and forestry should never have been established as an open trust. Unitholders have recognised this and voted strongly for a more appropriate and enduring structure."

Sir Selwyn says the outlook for the trust is "particularly bright". He says earnings and gross returns are predicted to rise over the next five years. Also the strength of the trust centres on a strategic decision to invest in forestry and diversify its farming activity, particularly into dairying.

He says closure of the trust will end the situation whereby the manager has to sell properties to fund unit redemptions.

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