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Fletcher Building refreshes board chair, directors after announcing new strategy

Friday 22nd June 2018

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Fletcher Building's outgoing chair Ralph Norris announced the board's audit and risk committee chair Bruce Hassall will succeed him when he steps down from the troubled building company in September.

Four new independent directors have also been appointed to the board from September, which the company said will strengthen its expertise and diversity, and a new Australian director is expected to join the group in coming months, the Auckland-based firm said in a statement. Two current directors will also leave the board.

The board reshuffle comes after Fletcher's new chief executive Ross Taylor yesterday announced the result of a strategic review which will see the company move to a decentralised operating model with more divisions, cutting annual overheads by $30 million and reversing the changes put in place by his predecessor Mark Adamson who lost his job. Norris said today that when he announced that he would step down as chair in February, he committed to first completing the CEO transition and board refresh.

“Our CEO Ross Taylor is now firmly established in the role and has led the development of a focused strategy that aims to deliver long-term growth for shareholders," Norris said in the statement. "Our balance sheet has been strengthened following a successful capital raising, and the company is on track to deliver FY18 guidance. "

Hassall has extensive experience across the public and private sector, including as the former CEO and senior partner of PwC New Zealand. He was appointed as an independent director of Fletcher in March last year and will relinquish his role as head of the audit and risk committee upon appointment.

"Bruce Hassall will bring strong and steady leadership as Fletcher Building’s new chairman, and will complete the board refresh with the appointment of an Australian director in the coming months," Norris said.

The new directors include Barbara Chapman, the former managing director of ASB Bank for seven years, and a director of Genesis Energy and NZME; Rob McDonald, the former chief financial officer at Air New Zealand and a director and incoming chair of Contact Energy; Doug McKay, a former chief executive of Lion Nathan, Carter Holt Harvey, Goodman Fielder, Sealord, Independent Liquor, and Auckland Council, the chair of Bank of New Zealand and Eden Park Trust, and a director of Genesis Energy, IAG New Zealand and the National Australia Bank; and commercial and corporate lawyer Cathy Quinn who leads the mergers & acquisitions and private equity teams and the China practice at MinterEllisonRuddWatts, and served as chair of the firm for eight years, who is also a director of Tourism Holdings, and a board member of New Zealand Treasury and the New Zealand China Council.

“Our four new independent directors are high calibre individuals, who bring a mix of commercial, operational and governance expertise, which will greatly enhance the experience and diversity of the board,“ Norris said. "While our original intention was to seek a director with construction experience, with our appointment of Ross Taylor who has considerable expertise in this area, our decision to exit the vertical construction sector, and a new strategy in place, we believe the appointments we have made will best support the company’s new strategic direction."

The departing directors include Alan Jackson who will retire after nine years on the board and Cecilia Tarrant who is stepping down after seven years.

Fletcher shares last traded at $6.88 and have lost 7.5 percent over the past year.


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