Zespri denies CFO resignation linked to China fraud case

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Zespri denies CFO resignation linked to China fraud case

A Zespri spokesperson has denied any relation between the announced resignation of chief financial officer Merv Dallas and the company's historical problems in China.

Zespri CFO Merv Dallas

Zespri CFO Merv Dallas

In a written statement, Zespri CEO Lain Jager said Dallas will leave in June, and the recruitment process for his replacement will start immediately.

"Merv has given 12 years of service to the kiwifruit industry and is deeply respected throughout the industry by all participants," Jager said.

"Merv has been key to the successes of the industry over that period, which has seen the highest-ever Green returns delivered to growers this year, Gold returns reach over $100,000 a hectare and Zespri almost doubling its global sales revenue to over $1.5 billion.

"He also played a tremendous role in the industry’s recovery from Psa, acting as a lynchpin in maintaining the confidence of investors in the industry to have faith in its ability to overcome the disease."

Jager said Dallas' decision to leave and seek new opportunities made "absolute sense", and he would "go with a huge amount of support and best wishes from those who have worked closely with him during his time here".

The Independent Kiwifruit Growers Association (IKGA) is critical of Zespri's handling of the announcement, given the fact Jager used the opportunity to mention record returns; a claim the association believes does not take full stock of the situation facing growers.

"There was absolutely no need for Mr Jager to trumpet this  when announcing Mr Dallas’ resignation and considers it crass of him to do so and a poor reflection on the corporate culture at Zespri," IKGA said in a statement.

"What Mr Jager fails to mention is that Zespri has not adjusted the comparison to previous returns to take account of increases in kiwifruit production per hectare or the impact of cost increases especially since PSA hit the industry.

"Mr Jager knows that "returns" are not the same as "profit" and that orchard profitability is nowhere near any record if a fair comparison was undertaken."


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