No amount of spin from Oxiana or standing ovations from a few retail
shareholders can hide the fact that the company has just faced the
biggest revolt of any top 200 company against a remuneration report
since the new
non-binding vote came into effect for all AGMs after 1 July last year.

Chairman Barry Cusack brazenly misled shareholders yesterday with
his claim that no votes of 35-45% are normal. This is where
Oxiana sits on the league ladder of “against” votes after about 1,500 AGMs, but you should note that Novogen is a
tiddler with a market capitalisation of just $347 million:

Novogen: 72.5%

Oxiana: 46.9%
Sims Group: 35.6%

Investa Property Group: 35.14%
Valad Property Group: 29.8%

Spotless 24.2%

Jubilee Mines: 24.4%

Centennial Coal: 22%

Amcor: 21.38%

Rinker: 19.6%

And just to further demolish Cusack’s bunkum about comparable companies, this is what has happened at the
AGMs of the other resources companies in the top 150 when it came to voting on the remuneration report:

AGL: 10.75%

Paladin Resources: 10.59%

Rio Tinto: 5.28%

Woodside Petroleum: 4.62%
Minara Resources: 3.52%

Newcrest Mining: 2.28%

Origin Energy: 1.83%
BHP Billiton: 1.82%

Excel Coal: 0.4%

In my view, Barry Cusack is not fit to chair a major public company
based on yesterday’s performance. You simply can’t refuse to properly
explain an issue and then completely mislead shareholders about the
scale and importance of the protest vote. This was a major revolt which
he attempted to portray as normal.

Sadly, the cheer squad of deliriously happy retail shareholders and
assorted company hangers-on chose to ignore the issue and I was the
only person of about 300 in the room who voted against the remuneration
report on the show of hands. Some other chairman of a listed company
sitting in the front row launched a typical attack on “corporate
governance box-tickers” whilst not actually addressing the specific
issue.

The remuneration report vote really should have gone to a poll because the raw votes were as follows:

For: 279.4m

Against: 246.3m

Discretionary: 3m

Abstain:17m

The non-controversial resolutions passed yesterday with an abstain vote of under
1 million, so if you add the 17 million abstained proxies we’re talking 48%. I
pointed out that it probably would have gone down without the support of shares
held by management, but company secretary David Forsyth then claimed
“certainly the management would not be voting, we’re not that sort of
company”.

Given that every director has an equity play of more than 1 million
shares, I would be most interested to see if that claim stacks up. Why
wouldn’t they vote the stock to save the embarrassment of being the
first $1 billion-plus company to have their remuneration report
defeated?

Peter Fray

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