Fonterra has named its new CEO – Theo Spierings, a Dutchman with 25 years experience in the global dairy industry.
Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden said:
“Mr Spierings has a wealth of experience in managing dairy businesses across Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” Sir Henry said.
“Most importantly, Mr Spierings has an in-built respect for the co-operative structure and for farmers and their commitment to co-operative principles. He is well recognised by his peers for his people leadership, delivery of results and strong strategic skills.”
This will resonate with Fonterra’s shareholders who are resolute in their determination to retain farmer control and the co-operative structure.
Mr Spierings was acting CEO of Royal Friesland Foods when he presided over all aspects of its complex and highly sensitive merger with Campina. He left the company shortly after completing the merger as, prior to the transaction, both parties had already agreed on an independent CEO to take the new entity forward.
Sir Henry said as well as a 25 year history in the global dairy industry, Mr Spierings had held a variety of general management, operations and supply chain and sales and marketing positions across a number of geographies.
Mr Spierings said the role of CEO for Fonterra was a great opportunity, working in the industry he loved.
“I am honoured to be invited to lead Fonterra into its second decade,” Mr Spierings said.
“The Fonterra Board, Andrew Ferrier and his team have established a strong foundation and my challenge is to build an even more successful global dairy co-operative.
Mr Spierings said he was familiar with both Fonterra and its key people and had great respect for the foresight New Zealand farmers had shown in creating Fonterra in the first place.
“A huge amount has been achieved in the past 10 years since Fonterra was established. Trading Among Farmers – the newly approved capital structure – is a good example. But what makes Fonterra really unique is its combination of low-cost pasture based farming and its status as the world’s largest milk processor.”
With the co-operative already performing strongly, Mr Spierings said it was clear that the challenge ahead was to add another layer of value across the business.
“I am used to working for farmers and I know they demand results. Being entrepreneurs themselves, they expect continuous improved performance of both their co-operative and through-out the value chain,” Mr Spierings said.
”I am acutely aware of Fonterra’s importance to the New Zealand economy and look forward to leading an organisation that has the potential to have such a positive impact on its home country. I thrive on the prospect of contributing to Fonterra’s continued success, which I know is of great importance to not only its farmers and employees, but to every New Zealander.”
Mr Spierings, aged 46, holds a Bachelor of Arts-degree in Food Technology/Biotechnology and a Masters in Business Administration. He is married with three children and currently lives in The Netherlands. He owns and runs his own company which focuses on corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions in fast moving consumer goods.
The 2011 financial year would be a record one for Fonterra and announcing thre results will be one of Andrew Ferrier’s last duties with the co-operative before his successor takes over on September 26.