It wasn’t exactly a coalition of the
willing against Rupert Murdoch today as crazy American shareholder
activist Evelyn Davis demonstrated she was completely nuts. Davis makes
Jack Tilburn look sane.

“I am the most famous shareholder in
the world,” she declared to Crikey before the meeting even began. “I’ve
got more than 1 million hits on Google.”

The journalist I was
chatting to immediately walked off and later warned she was crazy and
constantly haranged the media talking up her performances.

Evelyn
denouces talking to “flunkies” and claims to only deal with CEOs, so
when Rupert strolled in she button holed him and they almost seemed to
cuddle.

When it came to asking questions, Evelyn was up first for a 10 minute rave in which she plugged her publication, Highlights and lowlights of Watergate,
and then declared she liked the board and supported the poison pill
because she didn’t like John Malone. The most lucid she sounded was in
her attacks on News Corp’s staggered board – a rort she claimed to have
persuaded a whole range of companies from Viacom, Marriott and GE down
to ditch.

The most self-important moment probably came when she
declared, “I know more about what goes on in Washington than anyone
else in this room.”

Crikey followed with about 15 minutes on
questions for the individual directors up for re-election, at which
point Evelyn began her attacks which variously included the following
over the next hour:

“I never stoop that low,” – asking about private matters such as Lachlan’s resignation.

“You look like a Nazi storm trooper.” – Crikey was dressed in black.

“Unlike others, I know when to stop.” – a recurring theme.

About
a dozen American shareholders came up afterwards to apologise for
Evelyn’s rudeness and constant interruptions. At one point one of them
asked Rupert, “Who’s chairing this meeting?”

Sadly, if Evelyn
Davis is the best America can come up with in terms of retail
shareholder activists, the much feted American culture of shareholder
pressure has a long way to go.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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