Fletcher tackled on Stonefields, sets new home building target

Fletcher Building was involved in restoration of the Great Hall in the Christchurch Arts Centre where it also held its ...
David Walker

Fletcher Building was involved in restoration of the Great Hall in the Christchurch Arts Centre where it also held its annual meeting.

Fletcher Building directors at the annual meeting in Christchurch were quizzed about the company's controversial 480-home Otuataua Stonefields development near Auckland's Manukau Harbour.

Otuataua resident and Fletcher Building shareholder Nikki Elder asked chairman Sir Ralph Norris to visit and talk to her community and the group called SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape).

Norris promised he would talk to them but said there was a fundamental difference of viewpoints - "I don't know if they're reconcilable".

Fletcher Building chief executive Mark Adamson addresses shareholders at the 2016 annual meeting in Christchurch.
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Fletcher Building chief executive Mark Adamson addresses shareholders at the 2016 annual meeting in Christchurch.

The company was communicating with local iwi and was mindful of its cultural responsibilities. 

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Fletcher Building faced similar situations elsewhere, he said.

The handful of other questions from the 160 shareholders at Christchurch's Arts Centre Great Hall were about operations.

When asked about the future of Placemakers, chief executive Mark Adamson said the chain would continue to target the wholesale market with about 80 per cent of sales to this group.

Fletcher Building was ramping up delivery of homes nationwide from a historical average of 300 a year to a target of 1500 by building up a land bank and engaging in partnerships with government Adamson said.

Chairman Norris highlighted the company's contribution to Christchurch's earthquake rebuilding, including $4m for restoration of the Arts Centre, and $8m to other heritage and building initiatives.

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The Canterbury Home Repair Programme had employed 12,000 staff, and Fletcher staff were still working through a foundation remediation programme to make several thousand repairs compliant. 

The company would begin construction in coming weeks of the first of 14 apartment buildings in Christchurch's central city "east frame" along the now-vacant eastern side of Manchester St. It also had four other housing developments under way in Christchurch.

Fletcher Building welcomed an additional 1200 employees with the $303m acquisition of the Higgins aggregates business.

The outlook for the 2017 financial year was for operating earnings between $720m and $760m compared with the $682m delivered this year.

But the Australian housing market was cooling especially in western Australia, Adamson warned. 

As previously reported, the total imputed dividend to shareholders was 39c a share.

Adamson expected to be able to fully impute dividends to New Zealand shareholders for the next three years but the company had insufficient credits for Australian tax purposes.   

The share price has risen from a low of $6.50 a share in February to a high of $11 in August, easing back to $10.20 this week.

Adamson said it was the result of volatility on world sharemarkets.  

 - Stuff

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