Crikey’s batting average in corporate elections continues to fall after tilts for Gunns and John Fairfax this AGM season. As you can see from the accompanying table, the 7.85% primary vote (excluding undirected proxies and abstained votes) on Friday at Fairfax ranked 17th out of 21 tilts since this all began with a run for the AMP board in May 2000.

The top five results all happened in 2000 before institutions worked out what was going on. It’s been downhill ever since, and the Fairfax vote of 47.05 million in favour and a whopping 552.58 million votes against was disappointing. The contrast with the 2001 tilt at Fairfax was quite stark as back then I received 64.18 million votes in favour and only 247.73 million against.

Dropping from 20.58% to 7.85% in four years is not what you call progress, but I suspect Fairfax did quite a ring around of institutions requesting a big no vote against Crikey to provide support for new chairman Ron Walker.

The fact that Crikey was built and sold as a profitable ezine since the last tilt, and Fairfax desperately needs a coherent internet strategy, clearly didn’t rate with the institutions, only one of which actually made contact before voting. Then again, I didn’t try to contact a single institution either, which was partly because Fairfax only provided an accurate list of their largest beneficial owners last Monday which was way too late because everyone had already voted.

There was also clearly no support from the two powerful proxy advisory firms, Corporate Governance International and Institutional Shareholder Services. It’s a shame these outfits don’t have AGMs as neither of them made contact to ask about the Fairfax platform before directing a vote against Crikey.

Best to worst: Stephen Mayne’s 21 failed listed company board tilts

Woolworths 2000 54.74%
NRMA 2000 45.59%
CommBank 2000 39.71%
AMP 2000 33.89%
WA News 2000 28.41%
John Fairfax 2001 20.58%
ASX 2002 18.7%
Gunns 2005 14.7%
Telstra 2000 14.65%
ASX 2000 13.52%
News Corp 2002 12.89%
David Jones 2000 11.46%
AMP 2003 11.41%
PMP 2001 11.24%
ASX 2001 10.69%
NAB 2000 9.14%
John Fairfax 2005 7.85%
Telstra 2001 4.76%
Southern Cross 2001 3.85%
Axa Asia Pacific 2001 1.1%
Westfield Holdings 2000 0.37%
Average 2000-05 17.58%