29 Oct 2010

Airport shareholders question chairwoman's credentials

6:39 am on 29 October 2010

Shareholders in Auckland International Airport have questioned the credentials of the company's new chair, independent director Joan Withers.

More than 200 investors attended the airport's annual meeting in Auckland on Thursday, and while they were pleased with the company's growth prospects, they were less so by some proposals.

Long-standing chairman Tony Frankham is standing down and will be replaced by Ms Withers.

Some at the meeting questioned her suitability as she was a former director of Feltex, even though she left the failed carpet company 15 months before its collapse.

Joan Withers told investors that even though she's been cleared of any wrongdoing, the failure still troubles her.

"Being involved in a company for whatever reason where shareholder value is lost is deeply disturbing to any director worth his or her salt," she told shareholders.

Mr Frankham says Ms Withers' promotion to the chair was hotly debated by the board because of her association with Feltex, but in the end it decided she was too great an asset to lose.

Meanwhile, a proposal to increase directors' fees by 6% this year, and 12% next year, was approved, but came under fire from some shareholders.