The outgoing Fletcher Building CEO's appointment to the board of Fonterra was c' />
Ralph Waters acknowledges he's got a lot to learn about dairying.
The outgoing Fletcher Building CEO's appointment to the board of Fonterra was confirmed yesterday, following the Business Herald's report last week he was set to become a director.
Asked whether he had any particular views about dairying's future, Waters said one reason he had been invited to join Fonterra's board was because he had experience relevant to the co-op's expansion plans.
"I don't hold myself out to have strong views on the dairy sector or the agricultural sector. That's all in front of me to learn."
Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden said Waters was held in high esteem by business on both sides of the Tasman, and would bring considerable knowledge and expertise to the co-op.
Fletcher Building's significant growth under Waters' stewardship was achieved through a combination of improved operating performance, acquisitions and diversification, including expansion into Australia, van der Heyden said.
"The parallels with our current Australian strategy are obvious."
Fonterra - a $12 billion business - has reported annual revenues of A$1.9 billion across the Tasman and processes 21 per cent of Australia's milk.
Waters said it would be interesting to be involved in Fonterra given its importance to the New Zealand economy, but "there's nothing altruistic in any of this".
He had been working fulltime "and I'm going to stop working and a number of people have called me up and said would you like to be involved with this, that or the other.
"A lot of those things I've said no to ... but this is interesting enough to be involved."
Fonterra's $12 billion revenue is about double Fletcher Building's and Waters said it would be exciting helping with an even bigger operation - but he noted extra size did not necessarily make such a job harder.
"The size of the revenue itself is not a daunting issue - that's not necessarily the measure of complexity."
When he announced in May that he was stepping down as Fletcher Building CEO, Waters said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Taking on the Fonterra role would not eat into his time too much, he said yesterday.