A struggle for control is taking place amongst the leaders of dairy giant Fonterra, New Zealand’s biggest company.

Appointed on 12 September, incoming company chairman Henry van der Heyden has been clashing with the existing CEO Craig Norgate. The new chairman quickly began to take hands-on control of Fonterra, which led to tensions between the two leaders, whose common aim is to take the company forward.

“Craig and I realise that I am the chairman and he’s the CEO … that they are different roles,” Van der Heyden told Sunday Star-Times.

“The role of the board is to set the direction of the company and we hold management accountable to execute and implement the strategy. That’s the way I plan to run the company.”

Van der Heyden admitted that he and Norgate were once fierce competitors, but now the two men have shared objectives. Having worked with four different chairmen in the last ten years, Norgate has come to expect different styles. But he maintains that he and Van der Heyden have the same priorities and no philosophical differences.

Fonterra is aiming to reduce costs significantly in order to keep a promise it has made to farmer members that NZ$300m (US$140.8m) more will be available by year three.

Despite the emphasis on cost reduction that includes trying to cut the company’s $72m consultants bill, Van der Heyden is alleged to have been advised by public relations firm Baldwin Boyle.