He had also played a leading role in the launch of trading among farmers, which had significantly improved Fonterra’s capital structure.
Mason joined Fonterra from Cabot Corporation in the United States, where he was executive vice president and chief financial officer from 2006. But he had lived in New Zealand from 2000-2005 for his role as chief financial officer for Carter Holt Harvey (CHH). From 1985-2000 he worked in a variety of financial management positions at International Paper and ExxonMobil Corporations.
Spierings said Mason had agreed to support the co-op through to the end of the financial year while Fonterra which has started an international search for his successor.
Latest figures show export drop
Statistics released late in January showed dairy exports fell in both dollar and volume terms in the December quarter. Receipts declined 12% from the September quarter and quantities were down 15%.
The impact bruised the country’s year-end trade statistics. The seasonally adjusted value of the country’s exported goods fell 3.3% to $11.4 billion in the quarter after rising 4.4% in the September 2012 quarter.
"Seasonally adjusted dairy exports led the fall in exports in the December 2012 quarter," industry and labour statistics manager at Statistics New Zealand Louise Holmes-Oliver said.
The $369 million fall to $3.1b in receipts from milk powder, butter, and cheese (NZ’s largest export commodity group) followed a 14% rise in the September quarter. Quantities had surged by 36% in that quarter.
The seasonally adjusted value of imported goods decreased 1.5% for the second consecutive quarter in the December quarter, leaving an $87m deficit in the trade balance.
In the month of December, total export values decreased $217m (5.1%) compared with December the previous year. Imports decreased $403m (10 %).
The monthly trade balance was a surplus of $486m (12% of exports), the biggest trade surplus recorded for a December month as a percentage of exports since December 1991.
But receipts from milk powder, butter, and cheese fell $71m, down 5.3% to $1.3b. Whole milk powder (WMP) and butter led the fall, partly offset by a rise in cheese.
Among our trading partners, however, China recorded the largest increase in monthly exports, up $182m (34%). WMP led the increase, followed by meat and edible offal.