Michael Stiassny to step down as Vector chairman

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Vector chairman Michael Stiassny says he will step down from the board of the Auckland utility company in September after losing the support of its majority shareholder, Entrust.

In a written statement, Mr Stiassny said in response to media speculation about his tenure as chairman, that he had always served with the full support of the major shareholder.

He says he hasn’t been asked to step down.

“However, it appears that I no longer have the support of the Entrust trustees, in which case I will not seek re-election later this year,” he said.

He would make no further comment. He joined the Vector board in 2002.

Mr Stiassny is also chairman of Tower and a director of a large number of other entities, including Queenstown Airport and Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa.

Entrust, formerly called the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust, owns 75.1% of Vector.

Chairman William Cairns says a decision was made at an Entrust meeting this week not to support Mr Stiassny's re-election at the September annual general meeting. It then advised the chairman and Vector board of the decision but has not publicly said why it made that call.

He says the trust acknowledges "the dedication and significant contribution" Mr  Stiassny has made to Vector during his time as chairman.

"Mr Stiassny has led Vector’s diversification and growth strategy, with the result that Vector is in a strong position today," he said in a written statement.

The trust was set up in 1993 under electricity market reforms and serves 350,000 households and businesses in the Auckland area.

It paid out $80m in dividends to residents in the former Auckland Power Board area for the 2017 financial year on $211m of net profit, with dividends totalling $1.7 billion in the 20 years since its creation.

Mr Stiassney, who holds 65,793 shares in the listed company, earns $201,300 annually as chairman.

He has set himself up as a consultant and company adviser after resigning from insolvency firm KordaMentha late last year.

At the time he said he had left the insolvency arena after nearly 30 years because he had “moved on to other things” including corporate governance.

That included acting as a negotiator for the government and Auckland Council for the America’s Cup.

“I’m doing things where I can make a difference,” he said. “I want to be able to do work for good reasons.”

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