Australian wool producers could lose control of Woolmark when it assumes its new structure next year, the Herald and Weekly Times reported today.

The new organisation, which would no longer be funded by Australian wool growers, would probably look outside its native country for funding, said Wool Services chairman Rod Price. This was a natural consequence of the growers' decision to abandon funding the promotional organisation, he added.

The Woolmark company's intention to go public within two years has prompted questions from the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO), but Mr Price said that Woolmark's twin roles of providing dividends for shareholders and promoting wool growers around the world were complementary. In a detailed outline of the new arrangements to the IWTO, Mr Price said: "My intention for the Woolmark Company is to ensure its relevance to wool-related industries around the world and thereby ensure its success for shareholders.

"In order to add value and maximise returns to its shareholders, Woolmark will take a leading global position in the development, marketing and distribution of wool product technology and the provision of specialist services to wool-based industries."

Overseas executives of Woolmark have been planning for the past two years for the end of grower funds and the adoption of a totally commercial function. They are confident that the new system will work, at least as far as funding the product promotion and other related activities of the company.

Woolmark licences, marketing of easy care products, the commercial benefits from Sportwool fabric and brand, plus other sales of technology, are all potentially major money earners for the company.