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Air NZ boss Luxon to sit on Virgin board

Air NZ boss Luxon to sit on Virgin board

By Suze Metherell

July 4 (BusinessDesk) - Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon has been appointed to Virgin Australia's board alongside its fellow investors in the Australian airline from Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Air NZ's Luxon, Etihad's James Hogan, and Goh Choon Phong of Singapore Airlines will join Virgin's board, representing their major stakeholder positions in Australia's budget carrier. Overall, 79 percent of the company is split between the three airlines and Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the company said in a statement.

Auckland-based Air NZ lifted its stake in Virgin to 25.99 percent last month, the maximum holding it is allowed in its agreement with the nation's foreign investment body, having first sought an alliance with the Australian airline in 2010 after a potential tie-up with Qantas was knocked back in prior years. Etihad holds a 21 percent stake and Singapore Airlines sits on a 22 percent holding, according to the most recent substantial shareholder notices on the ASX website.

Virgin adopted a nominee director protocol, in consultation with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, to manage conflicts of interest and confidential information.

"We have put in place strong protocols in relation to confidential information and any conflict of interest," said Neil Chatfield, chairman of the Virgin board. "The board will retain its overall independence given that I, as current chairman, am an independent director and the company's constitution states that the chairman has a casting vote if there is an equality of votes at a meeting of directors."

Shares in ASX-listed Virgin Australia last traded at 42.5 Australian cents and have gained 12 percent this year. On the NZX shares in Air New Zealand rose 0.5 percent to $2.18 and advanced 32 percent this year.


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