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CEO Milliner falls victim to Mercer Group strategic review

Milliner falls victim to Mercer Group strategic review, resigns as CEO

Aug. 2 (BusinessDesk) - Howard Milliner has taken up the offer to resign as chief executive of Mercer Group, the unprofitable stainless steel fabricator that has been conducting a strategic review under new chairman Garry Diack.

Mercer named Rodger Shepherd as its new CEO. His previous jobs included deputy CEO of Fairfax Group in New Zealand and CEO of PMP Ltd.

“The board of the Mercer Group is looking for a strong change in direction for the company and Howard has agreed to step aside to allow this to happen,” the company said in a statement today.

In April, Mercer forecast annual earnings before interest and tax loss of $2.6 million to $3 million, saying trading conditions at its sink business in Australia and New Zealand had deteriorated since Christmas, with sales down 21% year-to-date.

It was optimistic trading would pick up again as the rebuild of Christchurch after the earthquakes got underway.

Mercer operated out of the terms of its banking covenant for much of 2010, and last year shuffled related party debts between the lending units of shareholders Allan Hubbard and Humphrey Rolleston.

The company was in talks with its lenders over its interest cover covenant “to better reflect current trading conditions.”

The board announced a strategic planning review of its businesses at that time and Diack took over the process when he was appointed in May, replacing Ian Farrant, who retired after more than 25 years as chairman.

Milliner had been with Mercer for 14 years.

Shares of Mercer last traded at 6.5 cents, valuing the company at $14.2 million.

(BusinessDesk)

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