A turnaround expert has been appointed chairman of Murray Goulburn

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John Spark, a former managing partner at insolvency experts Ferrier Hodgson, has been appointed chairman of Murray Goulburn, Australia’s largest dairy processor.

The move completes a major management restructure. Spark replaces Philip Tracy, who was chairman from 2011.

Ari Mervis, a former senior executive at SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewer, was appointed CEO in December.

The previous CEO Gary Helou announced his departure in April last year at the same time as a profit downgrade and cuts to the price paid to farmers for their milk.

Last month Murray Goulburn posted a loss of $31.9 million for the half year to December, with revenue down 14.8% to $1.176 billion.

Spark has extensive board experience across a range of large and complex businesses, including the agricultural industry.

Until recently he had an Angus cattle farm at Kerrisdale near Yea in Victoria. He was also an investor in Victoria’s fourth largest asparagus producer and a large Kiwi fruit business.

At Ferrier Hodgson he oversaw the successful restructuring and return to profitability of many large Australian companies.

He was also a partner at Arthur Andersen and at Orr, Martin & Waters.

“It is a true honour to have an opportunity to apply my passion and expertise to the Chairmanship of Murray Goulburn, a proudly farmer-controlled co-operative that has grown to become Australia’s largest dairy producer and one of the country’s largest agricultural exporters,” says Spark.

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