Chris Moller, deputy chief executive of New Zealand dairy titan Fonterra, is to leave the company as the NZMP commodity and ingredients division he headed up is reabsorbed into the parent company.

Moller was the most senior Dairy Board executive retained by Fonterra, and the principal rival for the position of CEO eventually claimed by Craig Norgate. The latter said yesterday [Tuesday] that the change in structure removed any need for a deputy.

Norgate said that Fonterra would make NZMP the heart of its operations, in a reorganisation "that will reduce duplication and costs and create an integrated structure aligned to the co-operative's future direction". Announcing the reorganisation, Fonterra CEO, Craig Norgate, said it was logical for NZMP to be at the centre of Fonterra's structure.

"In our first year since the merger we have operated as a small corporate centre with two strong business units in NZMP and New Zealand Milk and a collection of other activities grouped under Fonterra Enterprises," he said in a statement. "This was appropriate in the first year and ensured we delivered the required performance, but it did mean some duplication."

According to the statement, Moller's position of Managing Director NZMP will be replaced by that of chief operating officer. Moller was offered the new role but has decided, after 15 years in senior roles in the New Zealand dairy industry that his preference is to move on.

NZMP's finance, human resources, strategy, and merger and acquisition functions will all report through corporate function heads with a dotted line to the COO, Norgate added. Meanwhile, New Zealand Milk, Fonterra's FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) business whose main operations are in sales, marketing and distribution nationally and globally, will remain as a separate business.