Withers to retire as Auckland Airport chairwoman

One of few women on NZX-listed company boards, Joan Withers told shareholders at today's annual meeting she will retire this time next year.

Auckland International Airport chairwoman Joan Withers says she will retire from the board next year.

One of few women on NZX-listed company boards, Ms Withers told shareholders at today's annual meeting she will retire this time in 2013, at which time she will have served 16 years on the board, including three as chairwoman.

“I have served on this board since 1997 and I am very confident that we have robust succession options around our board table to fill the chair position,” Ms Withers says.

“My focus on the intervening 12 months will be appointing and assisting the new chief executive into their role, and ensuring that we maintain the organisational momentum that this great New Zealand business is delivering.”

AIA chief financial officer Simon Robertson is filling the shoes of former chief executive Simon Moutter, who left to lead Telecom in August.

The airport has signalled the international search for Mr Moutter’s replacement would focus predominantly on Australasia, and there would possibly be internal candidates.

Ms Withers says the recruitment process is progressing well and an appointment will soon be finalised.

“The recruitment process is rigorous and comprehensive and we are confident that that process will ensure we find a worthy replacement for Simon Moutter,” she says.

The airport's earnings guidance for the full year was maintained at between $143 million and $150 million for the year ahead.

This compares to an underlying net profit of $139.025 million for the last year to June 30.

At today’s meeting Ms Withers paid tribute to former colleague Sir Wilson Whineray, who died at the weekend, and the late Lloyd Morrison

Sir Wilson retired from the AIA board in 2005.

“I remember well his counsel and support, and his unfailing commitment to make sure Auckland Airport remained future focused, growth orientated and always able to accommodate the next generation of aircraft.

"What you see today at Auckland Airport is part of his legacy,” Ms Withers says.

“During the year we sadly lost Lloyd Morrison and I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge him. A director since 2007, Lloyd challenged our thinking and inspired debate on many important issues.

"He was passionate and aspirational about Auckland Airport and its role in New Zealand, and in many ways he was an extraordinary New Zealander.

"Lloyd was relentless in his pursuit of excellence in everything he did, and we are committed to honouring that philosophy.”

Ms Withers is the former chief executive of Fairfax New Zealand and is also the chairwoman of Mighty River Power and deputy chairwoman of TVNZ.

Data recently compiled by investment bank Goldman Sachs revealed that of the 574 board positions on NZX-listed companies, 11% are held by women.

The NZX announced in July that listed companies will be required to disclose the gender composition of their boards and senior management teams and provide information on their diversity policies from the end of this year.

Shares in AIA are trading up half a cent at $2.70 on the NZX.

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