Fonterra selects new CFO, gets early access to Ski brand

Posted by Editorial on 22nd January 2009

Fonterra Co-operative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has announced the appointment of Jonathan Mason as its new Chief Financial Officer. The dairy group also announced earlier this week that they had purchased the rights to the Ski brand three years ahead of originally planned.

Mr Mason, who will take the reins from February 16, is a highly experienced finance executive and joins Fonterra from US-based company Cabot Corporation, where he has been Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since 2006. He succeeds Guy Cowan, who announced his retirement in early 2008 and will be leaving the Group at the end of February 2009.Between 1990 and 2006, Mr Mason worked in various roles at US-based International Paper, the world’s largest forest products company, rising eventually to Vice President and Treasurer.

Fonterra’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ferrier said the appointment followed an extensive international search. “We are delighted to have secured someone of Jonathan’s calibre and experience,” he stated. “During his career, Jonathan has worked across all the functional areas required to be a successful CFO of a large and complex company such as Fonterra. He has particular strengths in areas such as cash flow management, shareholder value creation and capital structuring.”Mr Ferrier also paid tribute to retiring CFO Guy Cowan. “Over the past four years, Guy has made a strong contribution in strengthening our operational disciplines, risk management and controls and financial and management reporting. He has also championed significant reductions in costs during his time here,” Mr Ferrier said. “We wish Guy and his family all the very best as they move to a new life in Australia.”

The dairy co-operative, meanwhile, continued their Australian growth with the completion of a licence deal to manufacture, market and sell Nestlé’s Ski yoghurt brand in Australia. This follows their September acquisition iof Nestlé’s yoghurt and dairy dessert business in Australia.

As part of Fonterra’s agreement with Nestlé, the Ski brand, which was at the time under licence to Dairy Farmers, would transition to Fonterra at the end of the existing licence period in December 2011. National Foods, which purchased Dairy Farmers last year, agreed to transfer the Ski licence for an undisclosed amount three years ahead of schedule.

The Nestlé purchase was made to fill a gap in Fonterra’s dairy portfolio in Australia, the company advised. “The yoghurt and dairy desserts category is one of the fastest growing in the dairy segment and the acquisition of the SKI yoghurt licence gives us a strong position in this category,” John Doumani, Managing Director Fonterra Australia and New Zealand, said. “This complements our existing leadership position in cheese and spreads.”