Tattersall’s director Peter Kerr, one of four former trustees claiming an outrageous $100 million from shareholders in the Victorian Supreme Court, has today become the first endorsed director of a top 50 company to be rolled by his own shareholders. However, Kerr has taken the typically gutless corporate path and pulled out the day before the AGM rather than face the ignominy of certain defeat.
The Age has the story today and quotes Kerr claiming that 85% of shareholders supported his re-election. Err, yes, but corporate elections are about one vote one share, not one shareholder per vote. Crikey would be on several boards by now if it was only about getting lots of support from small shareholders.
Institutions and major shareholders decide corporate elections and Kerr was always in trouble when faced with quality opposition from people who, quite rightly, object to the notion of directors suing their own company for $100 million.
The only other endorsed director to be rolled in recent history was Peter Cassidy from Hills Motorway and he also resigned the day before last year’s AGM once he knew the proxies were against him. Here is a list of the biggest votes against incumbent directors, including the two disendorsed candidates who were rolled, Aristocrat’s John Ducker and Coles Myer’s Solly Lew, and the two who withdrew the day before.
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John Ducker: Aristocrat, 2004, 2.42%
Peter Kerr: Tattersall’s, 2005, resigned day before AGM
Peter Cassidy: Hills Motorway, 2004, resigned day before AGM
Solly Lew: Coles Myer, 2002, 44.83%
Mark Leibler: Coles Myer, 2002, 49.74% (survived after chair used open proxies in support)
Maurice James: Patrick Corp, 2005, 64.55%
David Asimus: BHP, 1998, 70.9%
Dick Warburton: David Jones, 2002, 75%
Richard Grellman and Lord Killearn: AMP, 2003, 81%
Rod Eddington: News Corp, 2005, 84.64%
The vast majority of directors are re-elected with more than 98% of the vote, as occurred with the Fairfax incumbents in Sydney on Friday. The two Tatt’s challengers, Mike Vertigan and Julien Playoust, were both easily elected at this morning’s AGM in a major coup for advcoates of good corporate governance.
They weren’t asked any questions about their plans but the other greedy old trustees, led by chairman David Jones, must now be more than a little nervous.