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Meridian promotes retail GM Neal Barclay

Meridian promotes retail GM Neal Barclay to replace departing CEO Mark Binns

By Paul McBeth

July 6 (BusinessDesk) - Meridian Energy chose an internal candidate to replace departing chief executive Mark Binns, with general manager of retail Neal Barclay poised to take over the reins of the country's biggest electricity generator at the end of the year.

Wellington-based Meridian's board didn't look outside the company for a replacement, instead deciding unanimously that Barclay ticked all the right boxes, chairman Chris Moller said in a statement. He will take over when Binns departs on Dec. 21. Barclay joined Meridian in 2008 as chief financial officer before switching to GM markets and production 15 months later, a position he held until last year when he took over the retail unit.

"Following the announcement of Mark's retirement, the board met to consider what process it wished to adopt to appoint a replacement CEO and the unanimous view was that Neal's credentials for the job were so strong that the board did not need to undertake an external search," Moller said. "This breadth of experience, not only in the NZ electricity industry but across all of Meridian's main activities, together with the leadership and competence he has brought to all of his previous roles, made Neal the standout candidate to be appointed Meridian's new CEO."

Binns joined Meridian from Fletcher Building almost six years ago, steering the power company from state-owned enterprise to an NZX-listed heavyweight. He announced his departure on June 22 without giving a reason for his exit.

Moller, Binns and Barclay will front investors this morning "to answer any questions that investors may have about Mark's decision to retire, Neal's appointment and the transition" but won't discuss any other matters. Meridian's financial year finished on June 30 and the company will report annual earnings next month.

Meridian shares last traded at $2.915 and have gained 13 percent this year. The government sold down its stake in Meridian at $1.50 in an initial public offering, via installment receipts, attracting 62,000 New Zealanders to the float. As at June 30, that had dropped to 47,948, according to NZX data.



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