Peters attacks 'fat-cat' Fonterra pay-out

Winston Peters says Fonterra boss Theo Spierings' $8.32 million paycheck for 2017 is why shareholders in New Zealand need "say-on-pay" laws.

Fonterra's annual result, released yesterday, revealed Mr Spierings was paid a base salary of $2.463m, benefits of $170,036, short term incentive pay of $1.832m and long-term incentive pay of $3.855m.

"Is this corporate New Zealand? Fat-cat payouts for doing their day job," Mr Peters said.

"Shareholders need to be reminded that their payout of $6.52 per kilogram of milksolids this season, is well under what they got in real terms for the final two seasons before Mr Spierings came onto the management scene."

Mr Peters said Spierings forwent a bonus worth $1.83m during one of Fonterra's worst payout years, but has won that bonus back in "an average season".

He took a swing at Fonterra's investment in Beingmate Baby & Child Food, the unprofitable Chinese infant formula producer and distributor that sells Fonterra's Anmum formula in China.

"Fonterra shareholders have seen the value of that stake almost halve over the past two and a half years - in excess of $300 million. The shares Mr Spierings purchased at CNY18.00 are now trading at just CNY9.90 and sinking."

"This kind of fat-cat payout is why shareholders need to be given a say on pay. Shareholders need to be given the power to hold the directors and bosses to account," Mr Peters said.

Yesterday, Fonterra said it took an impairment loss of $35 million on its 18.8% stake, reducing the carrying value to $617 million, which it said reflected Beingmate's share price slide and recent losses.

Still, "the market fundamentals remain strong and the changes to the regulatory regime, anticipated to be effective from 1 January 2018, are expected to have a positive impact on Beingmate's financial performance," it said.

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