Giri Tenneti, Senior Manager, Listed Company Services, ASX, spoke to Robert Spurway, CEO of GrainCorp Ltd. (ASX:GNC)
Giri Tenneti: Hello, I'm Giri Tenneti from ASX. And today, I'm interviewing Robert Spurway, CEO of GrainCorp. Good morning, Robert.
Robert Spurway: Good morning. Nice to be here.
Giri Tenneti: Thank you. So, GrainCorp is a global grain storage, handling and processing company that's worth about $2 billion today. It listed back in 1998. Could you give us a bit of an overview of GrainCorp today?
Robert Spurway: We are a large, diversified agribusiness. But at our heart, we're an infrastructure business. We have over 160 storage sites for grain across up-country Australia and seven deep-sea ports. That connects more than 10,000 Australian grain growers with over 350 customers around the world. We also have operations in New Zealand and Canada, and offices around the world to get that grain to where it's needed most. As well as our grain business, we also have a processing division, and that processes a range of edible oils and produces products like margarines. So, it’s all part of doing our bit to feed not just Australia, but the world.
Giri Tenneti: You would be aware that ASX and S&P recently launched an agribusiness index (The S&P/ASX Agribusiness Index). Could you give us your views on the benefit, both to GrainCorp and the broader community, of a sector index like that?
Robert Spurway: I think it's a great initiative for the industry. It'll bring focus and profile to an industry that often gets forgotten about. We are a huge believer in it. People always need to eat. It's a sector that's been incredibly resilient over time. And I think the index will bring that awareness to investors, create opportunities for businesses to raise capital, and for investors to be part of the great success story that is agriculture.
Giri Tenneti: And it's great that GrainCorp was one of the foundation members of that index.
Robert Spurway: We're very proud to be a foundation member and constituent of that index. Absolutely.
Giri Tenneti: I also note that GrainCorp has a ventures business. Could you tell us a little bit about that, please?
Robert Spurway: Sure. The GrainCorp venture capital fund is a relatively modest fund: $30 million over three years. And we are looking for businesses where we can make money, and obviously businesses we expect to succeed … It's at the intersection of technology and sustainability for not just GrainCorp directly, but for the broader sector. So, it's our way of contributing to start-ups in that area, bringing innovations that are needed in our business, and also getting a good return from that investment over time.
Giri Tenneti: We may even see some of them on the ASX board one day.
Robert Spurway: It would be nice to see that sort of growth and opportunity for some of those businesses, yes.
Giri Tenneti: So, my final question is about ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), which has been one of the most transformative factors in the investment landscape recently. I'm aware that GrainCorp's been publishing sustainability reports for close to a decade. Could you tell us a little bit about GrainCorp's approach to ESG and why it's so important?
Robert Spurway: I think if we look at the sector we operate in, farmers rely on the climate just about more than any other sector of society. So, the environment part of ESG is critically important to the sector we operate in. We're very proud of what we've achieved over the years, but we know we've got a lot more to do. And a standalone sustainability report is our way of sharing that story, but more importantly, setting the ambitions and the plans that we have to meet the expectations that we know investors and other stakeholders in our business have of us. So, a sustainability report is a really good way to share that story, but also share the plans that we have in place.
Giri Tenneti: Well, look, Robert, thank you very much for coming in today and interviewing for ASX On The Board. And I wish you the best.
Robert Spurway: My pleasure talking with you. Thank you.