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Fletchers 'risk being the bad guys' for stadium involvement
Wednesday November 15, 2006
By Anne Gibson

Angry Fletcher Building shareholders yesterday rounded on the company, accusing it of being "the bad guys" for being involved in the waterfront stadium proposal.

At a heated annual general meeting in Auckland, board members were forced to defend the company's involvement in giving advice to the Government on Stadium New Zealand and winning the right to build the platform if the waterfront site is chosen.

Meetings of the building giant are usually sedate and congratulatory, but yesterday's gathering of 500 shareholders turned it into a forum of harsh criticism and hot debate, as shareholders spoke out, mainly against the waterfront plan.

Eventually board chairman Rod Deane was forced to gag his critics.

"Much as I understand the enthusiastic interest as to where the stadium is to be located, this is not the appropriate forum to discuss the matter," he warned the vocal mob.

Shareholder Coralie Van Camp of Remuera attacked Fletcher Building for its involvement in the waterfront site and said if the company was involved there, it would be branded "forever the bad guys".

She encouraged Fletcher to abandon that site for the North Shore. "If you display integrity and persuade the Government to build at North Harbour, then you will be the good guys," she said.

Bruce Sheppard, an outspoken company critic, compared the stadium project with Rome's Colosseum and encouraged Fletcher to avoid taking on "iconic building jobs for difficult customers".

Other shareholders said they were worried that if the Government decided against the waterfront site and Fletcher did not get the contract, the company's spectacular share price would suffer.

Would Fletcher win the contract to upgrade Eden Park or Christchurch's Jade Stadium if the waterfront option was ditched, the board was also asked.

Fletcher chief executive Jonathan Ling said the company had no preference about where the stadium should be built.

Dr Deane assured the shareholders he was not hyping the waterfront stadium and said the company had tried to be level-headed about the project and its involvement.

It wanted to avoiding getting involved in any scuffle over site selection.