Sunday, July 3, 2022

Wilson defends presence of former chairman on board

Sir Henry van der Heyden’s continued presence at the Fonterra board table through 2013 has been defended and welcomed by the chairman-elect, John Wilson.       

He said “noise” around van der Heyden staying on was wrong in governance terms and in principle, and was “deeply embarrassing”.

“It is not right that his long contribution should be called into question during his last couple of months as chairman.

“It is not the way we at Fonterra treat people who have worked so hard for us,” he said.

“Henry has directed NZ Dairy Group and Fonterra for more than 20 years and we should be patting him on the back right now, not criticising him.

“I led the discussion around the board table which resulted in Henry and independent director Ralph Waters being asked to stay on,” Wilson said. “They are two of the most experienced governors in the country.

“Had they stood down now we potentially could have had five new directors going into 2013 and there is no way that would be in the best interests of the co-operative.

“There are also some legal obligations for them with Trading Among Farmers (TAF), so it is important to have them continue.”

Wilson said he was aware that a few people were creating uncertainty about the wisdom of van der Heyden continuing during 2013, which is the final year of his fourth Fonterra term.

“There seems to be a view that he will get in my way, but I am 100% confident that will not be the case.

“Neither Henry nor Ralph will be staying long term. Next year we will be looking for a replacement for Ralph and Henry will be retiring before the 2013 annual meeting.”

The 2012 annual meeting will be in Hamilton on December 17.

In addition to the remits seeking to secure nine farmer-directors, who would elect the chairman (Farmers Weekly November 5) there is talk of a remit calling for van der Heyden’s resignation.

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