NZX-listed Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has emerged as one of our biggest corporate givers, including providing ventilators to help the government with its response to the covid-19 pandemic.

In July 2020, after the world watched hospitals being overwhelmed by cases in countries like Italy, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare donated 79 Mindray SV800 ventilators to the Ministry of Health.

At first, the ministry said it had received no donations.

However, BusinessDesk pointed out the reference to the ventilators in the 2021 Fisher & Paykel Healthcare annual report, which valued the donation at $5 million, and the ministry corrected its answer to the Official Information Act (OIA) request.

In its response, the ministry said 34 of the ventilators were retained in its national stores in Auckland. The rest were distributed to district health boards (DHBs) in both the North and South islands, however, the ministry was unable to say whether they were actually used to treat any covid-19 patients.

Short supply

In a statement, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare's corporate vice-president, Marcus Driller, said at the beginning of the pandemic, it looked like ventilators were the first-line treatment for covid-19 and they were in short supply globally.

“More than half of our people are located in New Zealand and we recognised that acquiring and donating ventilators to the Ministry of Health was something that we were well placed to do at that time to assist NZ in preparing for an outbreak of covid-19.”

The company had long-standing relationships with most ventilator manufacturers worldwide, Driller said, as they were Fisher & Paykel Healthcare customers.

“They purchase our humidifiers to work alongside their ventilators.”

The company was in regular contact with the ministry and ministers throughout the pandemic, and it liaised with them to get the ventilators. 

A ministry spokesman said the Mindray ventilators supplied by Fisher & Paykel Healthcare could be used for non-invasive or invasive ventilation. They were suitable for intensive care use, he said.

“This donation was one of many generous offers to support the covid-19 response in the early days of the pandemic.

“Several Mindray ventilators were provided to DHBs as part of their covid-19 readiness plans for a response.”

The foundation

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare designs and makes products for acute and chronic respiratory care, surgery and the treatment of sleep apnoea.

In its interim results for the first half of the 2022 financial year – the six months ending Sept 30, 2021 – the company reported operating revenue of $900m and a net profit after tax of $221.8m.

Last year, it committed $20m to set up a registered charity, the Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Foundation.

Driller said the foundation aims to focus on three key areas: health, education and environment. On its website, the foundation reported supporting First Foundation, an organisation that helps students from low socio-economic backgrounds by providing scholarships to two students.

“The foundation was established to enable a more sustainable model for funding of community and charitable activities,” Driller said.

The medical devices firm is the only company in BusinessDesk’s analysis that cleared the 1% hurdle in 2021 and only because it set aside $20m to set up a charitable foundation.  

The year before, it reported donating just $100,000, or 0.03% of pre-tax profit.