Friday, July 3, 2009

Seppuku looking like an attractive alternative to doing nothing

I am not asking for a ritual Seppuku that originated from Japanese Samurai Swordsmen and is still practiced occasionally by shamed Japanese CEO's today but bloody hell I would like at least an attempt at showing responsibility and least some sense of shame when our business leaders do wrong. (gee I have been writing some negative stuff over the last few days - I will be back to stocks next column, I promise)

New Zealand leaders, especially the CEOs of our listed companies are renown for not taking responsibility for making mistakes and costing shareholders precious dollars and company reputations, in fact some have made an art of the practice.

Our company and cultural history is unfortunately littered with a very long list of them.

I have one such man in my sights for special attention, John Bongard from Fisher & Paykel Appliances [FPA.NZ]

When the company announced a few days back the appointment of two new board members from their largest shareholder and recent savior of the company from collapse Haier, one might have expected JB to take a running leap off a short board table and announce he would be taking early retirement from his CEO position.

It seems that it s not to be but that is not unusual in these days of avoidance of responsibility

John Bongard borrowed too much money too quickly to move the New Zealand domiciled and created company to overseas manufacturing bases and buying an overpriced European appliance maker a few years ago with borrowed money certainly didn't help -sure expand, but do so in a financially prudent and methodical manner without putting your company and your shareholder's moola at risk.

The thing is you eventually have to pay the money back or default on your loans as FPA did.

Go on, while I'm having a bitch I should be having a go at the rest of the board as well because they voted along with JB.

Lets hope the two Chinese gentlemen that have just put their feet under the board table can sort out the bottom drawers from the top loaders.

The company will simply limp along in the same hopeless direction they have under Bongard if they don't.

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Managing by Accountability: What Every Leader Needs to Know about Responsibility, Integrity--and Results
Managing by Accountability: What Every Leader Needs to Know about Responsibility, Integrity--and Results by M. David Dealy
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c Share Investor 2009

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