Business Insider: Air New Zealand, the Saudi affair and dodgy prawns

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Air New Zealand, the Saudi affair and dodgy prawns

The deal with the Saudi military and Air New Zealand’s engine maintenance arm in 2019 may have slipped below the radar of the airline’s top brass but a year earlier bosses were all over a different potentially thorny geo-political issue.

It phased out prawns from its menus because it couldn’t guarantee they weren’t caught by slave or forced labour.

Newly elected MP for Botany Christopher Luxon was in charge of the airline then and said at the time that serving up the crustaceans could breach the airline’s supplier code of conduct.

”We’ve recently taken prawns off because we don’t have confidence about the supply and where they’re coming from, what conditions they are caught in and what conditions the workers are in,” said Luxon.

The airline wanted to establish greater levels of transparency.

“It’s a small example of the things we’re looking at – we have to be reaching back further into our supply chain to make sure that inadvertently or unintentionally we might be causing something that’s contravening basic human rights or labour rights,” Luxon said back then.

While the supply chain has been under the microscope for some time, that level of scrutiny hasn’t applied to work it was doing fixing military engines, something Luxon’s successor Greg Foran ruefully acknowledged before MPs this week.

The Saudi contract at $3 million didn’t meet the financial threshold to be referred to the chief executive’s direct reports, a policy that is now being reviewed by an internal probe and another by PwC.

While the twin inquiries are still in their early stages it’s puzzling that, after their select committee appearance, neither Foran nor the airline’s chair Dame Therese Walsh were able to name other countries that Gas Turbines was doing work for besides Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

ANZ exec jumps ship

A top ANZ executive has resigned and is rumoured to be joining the ranks of a private, family-owned business.

Mark Hiddleston, ANZ’s managing director commercial and agri, has resigned after 15 years with the bank.

Hiddleston joined ANZ National in 2005 as the head of leveraged finance after doing a stint working in the UK for Bank of America and Mizuho Corporate Bank.

He then moved quickly up the ranks before being appointed MD commercial and agri in February 2016.

But Business Insider understands he is getting out of banking and will join a private firm.

An ANZ spokesman confirmed Hiddleston was off to pursue other opportunities but would not confirm exactly where.

Hiddleston will leave at the end of March.

Lorraine Mapu, currently ANZ’s general manager business, will replace Hiddleston and join the bank’s leadership team subject to the usual regulatory sign-offs.

Pay day time

My Food Bag’s much-anticipated initial public offer is now officially on the table with a share market listing planned for March 5.

The share offer presents a good exit opportunity for existing shareholders with private equity firm Waterman Capital selling down its 66 per cent shareholding to not less than 15 per cent. That will net the Auckland-based firm up to $193.9m plus dividends – having bought into the meal kit company back in 2016 for an undisclosed sum.

Other shareholders include co-founders Cecilia and James Robinson with 11.18 per cent, Theresa Gattung with 10.24 per cent and Nadia Lim with 5.7 per cent.

The product disclosure statement notes that these shareholders will retain at least 8.7 per cent in aggregate with the three above between them netting the lion’s share of $93.4m from the sale of their shares.

Each of the existing shareholders have entered into escrow arrangements where they have agreed not to sell down their remaining shares until the date My Food Bag announces its result for the March 2022 financial year.

The investment document also shows that My Food Bag has been able to pay a regular dividend to its shareholders since 2018. It paid out $3.4m in that year, $3.6m in 2019 and $8.4m in 2020.

The company will pay out $13.3m to those existing shareholders in the year to March 31, 2021.

Asked why Waterman decided to sell down to 15 per cent, the firm provided a statement saying: “Our decision to retain a shareholding of not less than 15 per cent following the offer was based on feedback from the deal roadshow and factoring in the desired free float requirements from institutional investors (My Food Bag will be on the cusp on entering the NZX50). Following the listing, Waterman still remains the largest single investor in My Food Bag and continues to hold a seat on the board.”

My Food Bag is also raising $54.8m through the sale of new shares, with the bulk of the proceeds used to repay bank debt. Some $16.7m will be set aside to fund the cost of the offer.

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