Construction and building products firm Fletcher Building said today it has appointed Jonathan Ling as its new chief executive following the resignation of Ralph Waters.

Mr Waters will retire on August 31 and return to his home base of Sydney after five years in the top job, the company said.

Mr Ling, 52, is chief executive of the company's Melbourne-based laminates and panels division.

While Mr Water's resignation may come as a surprise to the market, Fletcher Building chairman Roderick Deane said the move was carefully choreographed and followed two years of succession planning.

Mr Ling , an engineer, held leadership roles at Pacifica, Visy and Nylex before joining Fletcher Building in 2003.

Dr Deane said Mr Waters had made a "hugely valuable" contribution to Fletcher Building during the past five years.

He will remain on the Fletcher Building board.

Shares in Fletcher Building, which has interests in steel, concrete, plasterboard, panel products, insulation and aluminium, last traded yesterday at $9.70, just shy of an all-time high of $9.80 touched during the day.