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Fletcher Building bosses front up to shareholders amid Ihumātao negotiations

The bosses of the beleaguered construction company Fletchers fronted up to shareholders today, with the Auckland Ihumātao dispute raised as negotiations intensify. 

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1 NEWS reporter Katie Bradford was there and sat down with Fletcher Building CEO Ross Taylor. Source: 1 NEWS

CEO Ross Taylor told 1 NEWS shareholders' interests would be "top of mind" as they go into negotiation with the Government, with a possibility of Auckland Council buying the land back as the dispute continues. 

"We’ve worked very emphatically with iwi," Mr Taylor said. "Yes it’s frustrating, but we’re also respecting that the Prime Minister asked us to take a breath and allow the Government to work with ourselves and iwi to come up with a resolution.

"My sense is that will be done this side of Christmas."

Ihumātao protestors were allowed into the shareholders meeting.

Protest leader Pania Newton said she was disappointed to see some technical questions "dodged" and hoped for accountability for what she called a result of "poor policy".

However, she was "very pleased to hear the chairman announce publicly they are respecting a process and working towards a resolution". 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today didn't rule out a visit to Ihumātao but didn't commit to a time frame. She told media the Government were "working very diligently to find a way through".

Ihumātao was not the only issue facing Fletchers, with the Sky City Convention Centre rebuild set to be "significant", after a fire ripped through last month. 

Mr Taylor promised the details of the rebuild and the extent of damage would be revealed in February. 

"We want to have made the site safe, we want to have cleaned it up and we want to be back ready to start the rebuild properly," he said. 

He said there was a sense of the damage but when asked the size of the rebuild, Mr Taylor said “large… it’ll be significant”.

Mr Taylor said there had been interest in the rebuild by Government due to the scheduled APEC 2021.

"I haven’t given up on that yet, but I’m not making any commitment or otherwise," he said.

Asked if he regretted getting involved in the Convention Centre, Mr Taylor answered that "regret is a luxury, we’ve got to get it finished".

In August, Fletcher Building posted a $164 million profit for the year ended June, with revenue down to $9.3 million.

The expected earnings before interest and taxes for the 2020 financial year is between $515 million to $565 million, with the 2019 financial year being $549 million.