Tuesday, 06 October 2015 15:00

Theo asks for his salary to be iced

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Fonterra’s $5  million dollar man – Theo Spierings. Fonterra’s $5 million dollar man – Theo Spierings.

Fonterra chair John Wilson says there has been “a complete misunderstanding” over the pay increase for the co-op’s chief executive.

Wilson says Theo Spierings’ base salary was frozen last month at his own request.

He says the $750,000 increase reported last month in its 2014-15 annual accounts was related to performance incentive payment for the previous year, when the payout to farmers was a record $8.40/kgMS.

Wilson, who attended farmer meetings with Spierings last week, says they were “front footing” the issue and explaining to farmers.

Many Fonterra farmers are struggling to make ends meet; low dairy prices have slashed farmgate returns.

Fonterra last week disclosed that Spierings earned between $4.93 million and $4.94 million in the year to July 31, 2015, up from $4.17m to $4.18m in the previous year.

The company does not disclose Spierings’ base salary, but it is understood to be close to $4m.

Wilson says the incentive payment to Spierings was made in October 2014, after the successful 2013-14 season.

“Although it was reported in the last financial year statements, the actual payment was made a year earlier,” he told Rural News.

He says Spierings and the management realise the challenging times faced by farmers.

“Theo came to the board sub-committee and asked that his salary be frozen for this year. It’s very unfortunate that this has been misrepresented in some media.

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