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Hoggard 'confronted' on career-killing share deals

By Nick Stride

Friday 9th June 2000

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Kerry Hoggard

Former Fletcher Challenge chairman Kerry Hoggard confessed to fellow directors about his insider share trades after a confrontation with management five days after the deals were done.

FCL assistant corporate secretary Grant Niccol said managers spent the intervening days making sure of their ground.

"We were making sure before Kerry was confronted, if you like, that the transactions did occur and at what prices."

"Secondly, we were just looking at the whole issue of the legal position, the Securities Act, etcetera. We wanted to be sure we didn't go off half-cocked."

The confrontation came when emotions were running high at FCL as the family-founded conglomerate faced the fact it was to be split up and cease to exist.

Why Mr Hoggard went ahead with the deals which last December led to his resignation remains unclear.

His actions this week brought strong criticism from the Securities Commission, which found he had inside information on December 15, the day he spent $635,000 buying his company's shares.

Mr Hoggard denies he was warned by corporate secretary Gary Key not to trade - even though his successor as chairman, Roderick Deane, has said publicly the warning was given.

Mr Hoggard informed other FCL directors about his trades on Monday, December 20, after management presented him with evidence his deals breached FCL's director trading rules and were illegal under the Securities Amendment Act.

Mr Niccol said he didn't know if any of the other directors were aware of the situation.

"Gary [Key] handled the board. I'm not sure if they knew."

Mr Key has since taken a long-planned retirement. He referred questions back to FCL.

Immediately after the meeting with management Mr Hoggard sent a notice of the share purchases to the other directors so the matter could be discussed at a board meeting scheduled for December 22.

He told the board he did not remember being advised by Mr Key not to trade but conceded if Mr Key said it was so he would not dispute it.

But when questioned by the commission he said he did not accept the accuracy of Mr Key's account of their conversation.

The commission's report said a director of a major listed company should nonetheless have ensured he or she was aware of the relevant law.

During or after the December 22 board meeting, FCL directors sent Mr Hoggard a letter in which they "insisted," to use the commission's word, that he compensate those who had sold shares to him for foregone gains.

Mr Hoggard resigned the next day and placed $58,790 in a trust account to provide compensation.

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