Sir Selwyn Cushing
...Sir Selwyn Cushing
Let's be frank," says Selwyn Cushing
, "Craig Norgate is the 2005 edition of Ron Brierley."
...And it's kind of uncanny given that, for this interview, Cushing happens to be sitting in his old mate Ron's chair - at the head of the boardroom table in Guinness Peat's downtown Auckland office. He
says Norgate is the kind of deal-maker that every corporate sector needs and that New Zealand has been missing since Brierley left our shores. Last week, Cushing joined Norgate as a director on the Wrightson board.
A week earlier, he
family interests sold their 19.9 per cent Williams & Kettle stake to Wrightson
, ensuring the success of the Norgate-led takeover. Cushing
has faith that the former Fonterra boss, who last year led a takeover of Wrightson
, has good intentions for the rural services sector.
brushes those comments aside as he
has done many times in the past. He
argues that Brierley Investments played a vital part in the transformation of the economy.
said it was clear the rural services sector was ready for a shakeup if the number of companies and stores were taken into account.
In fact, it was the last obvious candidate for that kind of rationalisation.
(If anyone can think of others, they should feel free to send him the names and addresses of the relevant companies, he
adds with a wry smile.)
Cushing's involvement in this last big consolidation began on December 10 last year.
That was the day Fonterra and South Island-based rural services company Pyne Gould Guinness
(PGG) made their ill-fated play for a cornerstone stake in Williams & Kettle
had a sense something was coming, there had been talk in the industry.Then the brokers came calling, asking Cushing
son, David, if they'd sell their 19.9 per cent holding.They were told it was out of the question.
Fonterra and PGG
proceeded to make a stand in the market.That, in turn, triggered the interest of Wrightson
, which proceeded to spend about $21 million and trumped the Fonterra/PGG bid. Cushing
moved with impressive speed.
One of those people will, of course, be Cushing
, who adds his
23 years of rural services' experience to the new-look Wrightson board.
The three seats on the board helped convince Cushing
that this was - as Norgate
claimed - a friendly takeover.
The merger of the two companies will work, Cushing
"You've got a huge critical mass there ... on the other hand then South Island people might start to get a bit concerned at that." Cushing
believes that those South Island people - the good folks at PGG
- are likely to make their own move at some point.
They might even partner with Fonterra
...Sir Selwyn Cushing