The chairman of Fonterra Co-operative Group, John Roadley, has today [TUesday] announced his intention to resign from his position immediately following the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 12 September.

Roadley conveyed his decision to a meeting of the full Fonterra Board this morning. He has agreed to stay on the board until the end of the year to assist in the transition.

"My decision comes after deep consideration of what is best for the Co-operative going forward," he said: "When I agreed to accept the challenge of leading our co-operative following the merger agreement in December 2000, I made it clear that I saw the role as comparatively short term, to steer the business through the high risk and difficult period of establishment.

"I set myself three goals - to ensure our shareholders agreed to the merger, to see the co-operative through the risky transitional first year, to achieve consensus among the Board and Management on Fonterra's future business strategy.

"When I leave the chairmanship, Fonterra's business strategy will be about to be signed off by the board and management and by 1 October we will be approaching our first anniversary. In other words the first three major challenges are behind us," he said.

Roadley said that he had decided to announce his intention at this time in order to avoid the cost and diversion of another national election campaign, which would otherwise have been necessary to reduce the farmer directors from ten to nine.

"During the past few months a strong sense of unity of purpose has emerged around the board table and my resignation ensures that this natural maturing of the new company is not disrupted by yet another round of election meetings.

"My decision to resign brings to conclusion a very challenging yet rewarding period of my involvement with our dairy industry."

The board has elected Henry van der Heyden as the chairman-elect. Roadley said of him: "He is a natural leader and has a great contribution to make to this industry. I wish him well and he will always have my full support".

Fonterra recently announced a first-year loss of NZ$50m (US$23.47m), leaving farmers fuming when news of various executives' pay packets was released. For more information, click here.