John Wilson stands down as Fonterra chair

John Wilson  has announced that he is standing down as Fonterra chair immediately and will retire from the board in November.

In an email to shareholders he said:

  • I have made the difficult decision to stand down as your Chairman to recover from a recent serious health scare.
  • Within the last month I have undergone a significant surgery.
  • I have made a very good recovery and am well but need on-going treatment.
  • I have been humbled by the support of my fellow Directors, and after deep discussions with them and with my family, I have decided to stand down as Chairman as of today and will retire from the Board at the Annual Meeting in November.
  • It has been a privilege to serve you as Chairman and give something back to this great Co-operative that continues to give my family and me so much.
  • As many of you will know from experience, governance roles are incredibly rewarding, but equally demanding on the individual and their families.
  • Continuing as Chairman when I cannot put my full energy and attention into the role is not appropriate.
  • I look forward to spending more time back on the farm with Belinda and the girls.
  • Long standing director, John Monaghan has been selected by the Board as the new Chairman of Fonterra.
  • John, who has been on the Board since 2008, has been closely involved in the process to appoint a new CEO to Fonterra and will now be responsible for advancing this appointment with the full involvement and support of the Board.
  • I know you will join me in putting your full support behind John and the Board as he leads the Co-operative through this critical period of CEO transition, the DIRA review, farmer flexibility, and the vision and purpose work alongside the Shareholders’ Council.

Fonterra is facing criticism from outside but the shareholders who are the farmers who supply the milk can’t argue with the second highest payout and John Wilson must get credit for that.

It is New Zealand’s only internationally rated company and the country ought to be proud of it.

It is constrained by some of the conditions of the DIRA regulations and the review is an opportunity to fix that.

A serious health scare is a serious business and he is doing the right thing for himself, his family and the company by standing down as chair. I wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Fonterra is in the process of appointing a new chief executive.

It isn’t always ideal to replace both the chair and CE at the same time.

But if a board is functioning properly and all board members are pulling their weight there ought to be no problems with new people in both positions.

John Monaghan served as chair of the Shareholders Council and has both the skills and experience to lead Fonterra well.

 

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