Sir Ralph Norris retires from Contact board

Sir Ralph Norris is leaving the Contact board without stating why.

Boardroom heavyweight Sir Ralph Norris has resigned as chairman and director of Contact Energy in a move that will leave him with no significant board seats by the end of the year.

Sir Ralph will be replaced in the Contact chair in September by former Air NZ chief financial officer Rob McDonald, who joined Contact’s board in 2015 at the same time as Sir Ralph.

Contact gave no reason for Sir Ralph’s departure.

In a statement, the outgoing chairman said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Contact

“I am leaving it in the knowledge that the culture and customer focus that I firmly believe are at the heart of successful companies have improved significantly and the company is in good shape. The board has made an excellent choice in appointing Rob as chairman.”

In February Sir Ralph announced he would stand down as chairman and director of Fletcher Building after the company was rocked by a series of huge write-downs at its Building & Interiors division.

A Contact spokesman said the company had tested Sir Ralph’s appetite to remain on the board “after the Fletcher thing” and it appeared he was approaching the end of his corporate career.

Sir Ralph Norris topped the 2017 list of annual directors' pay of the 30 biggest NZX-listed companies on $743,600 as chairman of Fletcher and Contact.

The future
In a statement, Contact chief executive Dennis Barnes thanked Sir Ralph for his leadership.

“Our strategic direction is clear and the leadership team and all employees at Contact will keep our relentless attention on delivering.”

Mr McDonald said he was looking forward to leading Contact.

“The board, chief executive and leadership team are aligned on our strategy and plans. I look forward to engaging with many of our shareholders and stakeholders over the coming months.”

Contact said it expected to appoint new directors to replace Sir Ralph and Sue Sheldon, who resigned in April.

Sir Ralph is also a former director of Commonwealth Bank, Air New Zealand, Fonterra, ASB Bank and Team New Zealand.


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18 Comments & Questions

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Not to appear ungracious, but, Norris as a brand was toxic, share markets work as much on perception as reality, for example I will not invest in a Company that has an ex politician as board chair, after the debacle that Norris lead at Fletcher's his brand as a Chair that was worth investing in was destroyed. I had a motion of no confidence re Norris on the order paper for this years Contact AGM and just maybe it assisted him with his decision.

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Sir Ralph has undoubtedly been one of our highest achievers in both business & entrepreneurship....the recognition by way of a Knighthood was richly deserved. Si Ralph must be getting very close to retirement age, and like most people who have dedicated their lives to commerce, will no doubt be looking to a little less stress in normal day to day activities. I believe I speak for the vast majority of people in this country when I say, "Thank you for all you have done Sir Ralph, and all the very best for a well deserved retirement"

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I think with the CBA issues in Australia people might start rethinking his contribution. As for use of the term entrepreneur what business did he start with his own capital etc. He was a corporate animal - no doubt very good at that for a large chunk of his career. But a lot / most of the shine has gone.

(Edited)

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Not a shareholder in Fletchers then?

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more Bob Jones style sarcasm here me thinks

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This bodes well for future

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Norris’s brand and mana in the corporate and business world is tarnished with the CBA and Fletcher fiascos. Shame to retire under these cloud after many years of high flying in the corporate arena, not that it will bother him much.

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Pushed. (It's time to limit people to one listed company directorship at any given time, and do away with the cosy "directors' club" insiders and their multiple board memberships that exists now. NZ companies might get the better governance they need).

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Jobs for the boys, next up please should have been the headline here. Still it's nice work (if you can call it that) if you can get it.

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Someone who presided over a company during the largest red ink spillage in NZ' s corporate history, doesn't exit business life with much of a legacy.

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Maybe not, but he will have a smile on his face when he looks at his bank account.

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Ralph can never spend the money he already had before he took on the Chairmanship of Fletcher Building - so money is not the issue here.

It is about pride and legacy - something that money cannot buy.

Like the late Kerry Hoggard (exChair of Fletcher & insider trader) and Doug Graham (finance company fiasco), Ralph will never feel the same again.

But lest we be accused of tall poppy syndrome, Ralph should still be recognised for being a very successful individual and high achiever who stumbled in his final big test.

No shame - Muhammad Ali lost his last 3 fights but will always be remembered for being the Greatest.

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If his bank account is anything to go by he has done very well thank you.
If his achievements are the measure not so much.
Like all so called high flyers when the crash comes they are the first to run for cover and leave the rest to clean up the mess the high flyers presided over.
Norris reputation was generated and handed to him because there was a large gap in the line at the time.
I am yet to see any evidence that he was as good as his reputation said he was.
CBA a good example fletcher another.
Lets get real with these so called high flyers.
Edited

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You only as good as your last performance as the actress said to the Bishop.

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Is it coincidence that Contacts share price has been relentlessly upwards since the announcement?

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It won't be, because as you most probably already know good news makes the share price go up.

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Are these guys really that smart?

I thought most are political beasts, who more often than not leave employment before shit hits the fan.

Norris got his strips by pulling Air New Zealand out of the gutter; however the $800 million government injection probably helped.

CBA probably chose him because he proved he could work with the politicians; not too mention the runs he had on board with them in his time with ASB. Course over that time, banksters got away with murder, but their customers can nolonger absorb any more credit.

The rules have now changed, and it takes a different set of skills to run business that is trully open to competition.

Enjoy your retirement Norris. Its now the best place for you..

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Sunset? Time to call time on a slew of these guys: Liz Coutts, Geoff Todd, Jenny Shipley and Auckland director mafia who are all in their own way out of touch with a 1960's approach to business

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