boardroom

Fletcher building reveals major board reshuffle

Fletcher Building's outgoing chair Ralph Norris has announced ex-PwC boss Bruce Hassall will succeed him when he steps down from the troubled building company in September.

Hassall, who chairs Fletcher Building's audit and risk committee, led the 'big four' accounting firm for seven years until his retirement in 2016. He is also on four other boards, including BNZ, Farmers and Fonterra.

Four new independent directors have also been appointed to the Fletcher Building board from September, which the company says will strengthen its expertise and diversity. None, however, have construction experience. A new Australian director is expected to join the group in coming months and two current directors - Alan Jackson and Cecilia Tarrant - will leave.

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 some of the changes put in place by his predecessor. Mark Adamson lost his job after the company announced huge losses, and $90 million more losses were revealed yesterday.

In February, Norris announced he would step down as chair after completing the CEO transition and board refresh. He leaves the board on September 1.

“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 says. "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 on the Fletcher Building board are:

- Barbara Chapman, who was managing director of ASB Bank for seven years, and is 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, who is a former chief executive of Lion Nathan, Carter Holt Harvey, Goodman Fielder, Sealord, Independent Liquor, and Auckland Council. He chairs BNZ and the Eden Park Trust, and is a director of Genesis Energy, IAG New Zealand and the National Australia Bank;

- 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. Quinn is also a director of Tourism Holdings, and a board member of NZ 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."

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

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