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Ex-PwC boss Bruce Hassall to join Fonterra board in November

Tuesday 27th June 2017

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Former PwC chief executive Bruce Hassall will add Fonterra Cooperative Group to his list of corporate directorships when the joins the board of the country's biggest company in November. 

Hassall will replace David Jackson as an independent director after Fonterra's annual meeting on Nov. 2, the Auckland-based cooperative said in a statement. Hassall retired from PwC last year, ending seven years running one of the country's big four accounting firms, and has been taking on governance roles over the past 18 months joining the boards of Bank of New Zealand, Fletcher Building, Farmer's Trading Co, and Prolife Foods. 

Jackson's retirement will end 10 years on Fonterra's board, where he has chaired the audit and finance and nominations committees, and the milk price panel. He backed Fonterra's strategy and staff, saying they were the right mix "to deliver the best possible returns for its farmers today and in the future" and that he will devote "more time to my other interests". Jackson was recently appointed Tegel Group Holdings chairman after his predecessor James Ogden unexpectedly left after less than a year in the job. 

Fonterra chairman John Wilson said Hassall "advised many of New Zealand’s largest companies and co-operatives in the areas of corporate governance, audit, financial reporting and internal controls" and his skills "will complement those of our existing directors." The cooperative's shareholders will vote to ratify the appointment at the November AGM. 

If ratified, Hassall will chair the board's audit and finance committee. 

Hassall's appointment needed a ruling by NZX Regulation because one of his children was offered an entry-level marketing role at Fonterra which may have been captured by the disqualifying relationship listing rule. 

"The policy intention behind the definition of a 'Disqualifying Relationship' is to preclude the appointment of independent directors who may, in respect of the company, be reasonably influenced in a material way," the NZX decision said. "The paternal relationship of a director with one employee in a workforce of 22,000 where the role undertaken is not that of a senior or decision making role, will not reasonably influence the director in a material way."

Units in the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund were unchanged at $5.96, and have slipped 0.7 percent so far this year. 

(BusinessDesk)

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