It’s not surprising that the performance of former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley has come under scrutiny since the collapse of Mainzeal Property and Construction, of which she was chairman of the board till six weeks before the receivership.
Not surprising, either, that she has felt a need to defend herself, on several fronts, since she resigned from the board of the parent company, the Mainzeal group, one day before the construction company collapsed,. leaving some big projects in limbo, including a new complex at Victoria University and the aquatic centre at Kapiti.
On the day the receivership was announced, she and the other (ex) independent directors issued a statement explaining the details of their resignations in some detail.
Then came a second statement, in which she said she was “deeply saddened” by the receivership and denying that she and the other independent directors didn’t know about Mainzeal’s need for capital.
And today there’s a third statement – in which she denies any conflict of interest between her Mainzeal obligations and those as a Board member of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Agency.
Her role as government-appointed chair of Genesis Energy is being challenged as well. John Hawkins, the chief executive of the Shareholders Association, is quoted by the Herald as saying that on the face of it Shipley’s situation is “not a good look”
Her Genesis chairmanship was defended yesterday by the Prime Minister, responding to a question in Parliament. But his support was qualified. The Herald quotes him as saying “We have not seen any particular reason … at this point that would suggest that she should no longer chair a state-owned enterprise.”
The Herald quotes market commentator Arthur Lim as saying the Mainzeal situation is a “red flag” for investors. “It’s currently hard to find a publicly listed company with a politician on it which has produced a good result for shareholders.”
Dame Jenny’s other board responsibilities include iron sands explorer, TTR (Trans-Tasman Resources Limited) which appointed her last year.