Sir Ralph Norris retires from Contact board

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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