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Departures, explanations and an update at Sanford AGM

Departures, explanations and a trading update for Sanford shareholders

Jan 30 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford has informed shareholders of the retirement of its managing director and an experienced board member, and explained how it has fixed things after copping a multi-million-dollar fine from a US court.

The fishing company also said it has made a positive start to the new financial year and disclosed a deal with the New Zealand Shareholders’ Association that will hold the total fees paid to directors at $500,000 for another year.

Revenue for the first three months of the year is up 10 percent, helped by increased sales of salmon to the New Zealand market.

Chairman Jeff Todd said the board had accepted notice of managing director Eric Barratt’s retirement after 15 years in the job.

He will continue in the role, and subsequently as an independent adviser if necessary, until Dec 31 at the latest.

“I am sorry to inform you that our long-standing and respected director David Anderson has decided not to seek re-election at today’s annual meeting which marks the end of his current term,” Todd said.

Anderson joined the board in 1982 and served as managing director from 1991 to 1997. He took on industry roles, including deputy chair of the New Zealand Fishing Industry Board and president of the New Zealand Fishing Industry Association.

At last year’s meeting shareholders endorsed an increase in directors’ fees to a total of $550,000 per annum, but the board agreed to only pay $500,000 out in recognition of the company’s less than satisfactory performance in 2011.

“Given the 2012 results, the board now confirms to shareholders their intention to hold total fees payable in the current year to the same level, $500,000,” Todd said.

Chairman of the New Zealand Shareholders’ Association, John Hawkins, had confirmed the association was comfortable with this arrangement.

It was left to Barratt to explain that a judge in the US District Court in Washington DC fined Sanford US$1.9 million and ordered it to pay US$500,000 to a fishing foundation after its tuna fishing vessel, the San Nikunau, breached rules for discharging waste in international waters.

Barratt said the verdicts and sentence indicated there had been a pattern aboard this vessel of not following required protocols for bilges and bilge waste.

This was acknowledged by a Filipino relief engineer who never followed required rules on this or any other US or foreign flagged tuna vessel that he ever worked on. The regular chief engineer claimed he did but the court found otherwise.

“Sanford has been held vicariously liable for the actions of the engineers and other crew and we must accept responsibility for not detecting that these practices were occurring,” Barratt said.

“One aspect of our defence was that the vessel and its records had been regularly inspected by New Zealand and US government officials many times during the period of the offences and these issues were not detected at the time.”

“I could spend some time detailing the many arguments and counter arguments raised in this case but it is time to move on and to ensure that with our actions and responses we are never faced with this situation again.”

(BusinessDesk)

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