How we forget. AMP had its AGM in Sydney yesterday and the man who chaired the audit committee through the crisis of the past three years, Richard Grellman, was emphatically re-appointed to the board with a predictable but disappointing 99.55% of the vote. To be specific, 671.8 million proxies were voted in favour of Grellman and only 2.978 million against.
Grellman first joined the AMP board in April 2000 after chairman Ian Burgess and three other directors AMP were ousted in a coup. He was arguably a conflicted service provider at the time given that in his previous life at KPMG he had done a pile of work for then CEO Paul Batchelor on the AMP demutualisation.
Fast forward to 2003 and the extent of AMP’s $10 billion UK implosion became apparent. AMP was almost broke yet Grellman, as chairman of the audit committee, approved the release of the 2002 accounts that claimed the fallen insurance giant had net assets of $18 billion. This was fictional.
I ran for the AMP board at the 2003 AGM on a ticket which opposed Grellman and Lord Killearn, who was based in London and chairman of the board’s finance committee, on the basis that they chaired the two most important board committees responsible for the biggest single destruction of capital in Australian corporate history.
Proxy adviser Corporate Governance International recommended a vote in favour of these two baggage carriers claiming that AMP needed to retain some “corporate memory.” They also recommened a vote against Crikey, which partly explained my miserable 11.4% vote and the 80% primary votes for Grellman and Killearn. Check out all the figures here.
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At this point I gave up running for boards – what was the point when blokes responsible for losing $10 billion are seven times as popular with shareholders than a cleanskin candidate with a reform agenda.
AMP doesn’t need Grellman’s “corporate memory” any more because the new directors have now firmly got their feet under the table. However, that hasn’t stopped him from hanging around and getting overwhelmingly endorsed by our donkey-like institutions that have no sense of corporate history as they blindly tick the yes boss to re-elect members of Australia’s directors’ club.
Check out the full proxy results from yesterday’s AMP AGM here.