There was plenty of change at the top in some of New
Zealand's biggest companies this year, says APNZ business
reporter Jamie Gray.
The face of New Zealand business changed over the course of
2012 with a series of senior appointments made to some of the
country's top jobs.
Starting from the top, former World Bank managing director
Graeme Wheeler took over from Reserve Bank governor Alan
Bollard in September.
In central bank speak, Mr Wheeler is considered more
''hawkish'' than his predecessor, but commentators say it is
still early days.
Among the corporates, Jonathan Ling stepped down as chief
executive of New Zealand's biggest listed company, Fletcher
Building. He was replaced by Mark Adamson, a Briton, who came
into the Fletcher fold through its US unit, Formica.
Mr Ling, who resigned on September 30, returned to Australia.
In a short space of time, Mr Adamson has introduced big
changes to top management.
Sir Henry van der Heyden has stepped down as chairman of
Fonterra. Sir Henry has overseen profound changes in the New
Zealand dairy sector, starting with the formation of Fonterra
itself in 2001. He has been a driving force in getting the
Trading Among Farmers share-trading scheme operating. Waikato
farmer John Wilson took over as chairman on December 17.
In March, Westpac said it had appointed Peter Clare as its
next New Zealand chief executive, replacing George Frazis,
who went on to become chief executive of
Westpac subsidiary St George Banking Group. Mr Clare has held
senior management positions in St George, Westpac and
Commonwealth Bank of Australia. At Auckland International
Airport, Adrian Littlewood was appointed chief executive
officer in November. Mr Littlewood was previously general
manager, retail and commercial, for the airport and before
that was with Telecom.
Mr Littlewood replaced Simon Moutter, who was appointed chief
executive of Telecom in May. Telecom appointed Tim Miles as
chief executive of its information communications and
technology (ICT) unit, Gen-i. Mr Miles started his ICT career
in New Zealand with IBM, where he was responsible for public
sector customers. In 2001, he joined the Vodafone group, and
he was chief executive of Vodafone NZ for almost four years.
Mr Miles succeeds Chris Quin, who took over as chief
executive of Telecom Retail last October.
Henry van der Heyden
At the NZX, Singapore-based New Zealander Tim Bennett
replaced Mark Weldon as chief executive in May. While Mr
Bennett was not well known at the time of his appointment, fund
managers say he has slotted in well. Mr Bennett was previously
a partner at international consultancy firm Oliver Wyman. Mr
Weldon, after 10 years in the job, headed south to grow grapes.
The high-profile Rob Fyfe announced he would step down as
chief executive of Air New Zealand. Mr Fyfe joined the
airline at the start of 2003, becoming chief executive in
2005. Christopher Luxon was appointed chief executive
designate in June 2012, having previously served as group
general manager international. Before joining Air NZ, Mr
Luxon was president and chief executive of Unilever Canada,
based in Toronto.
Adam Feeley stepped down as head of the Serious Fraud Office
to take a job as chief executive of Lakes District Council in
Queenstown. A replacement is yet to be announced.
Refining NZ announced Sjoerd Post would succeed Ken Rivers as
chief executive. Early in his career, Mr Post worked for
Shell New Zealand.
Tony Radford, a founding director of New Zealand Oil and Gas
in 1981, resigned as chairman in October. He was replaced by
Peter Griffiths, who joined the board in 2009.
Mark Ashcroft, a partner at corporate executive search
company SEQEL, said the number of top jobs rolling over at
the same time was purely coincidental.
''The reality is that out there in corporate land, there are
probably only 20 or 30 really significant chief executive
roles in New Zealand,'' he said.
''In some years, it might be that four or five of them
change, and sometimes a few of them fall out at the same
time,'' he said.
''When market conditions are tough for a sustained period, it
can sometimes drive changes in leadership ''because people
think that by changing the leadership of a business, that it
will fundamentally improve the performance of the business''.
The past three years have been challenging for many
businesses, he said.
''For many companies, they are not actually going under, but
they are not doing it easy, either,'' Mr Ashcroft said.
''I think, in some cases, leaders do decide to opt out.''