Here we go again. Macquarie Bank were doing reasonably well in running
a relatively fair election for the board this year, but the Millionaire Factory was in
touch over the weekend, responding to this detailed letter that I sent
last week seeking to clarify the rules of engagement.

Like so many companies before them, Macquarie has decided to try
and charge for a copy of its share register, in this case $3600.

Imagine if political candidates had to pay thousands of dollars for a
copy of the electoral roll to send out a letter to voters. I’ll try
writing to ASIC but the AGM is less than a month away and most of the institutions start voting about two weeks out so the
timetable is very tight.

The campaign is explained in the notice of meeting and should be hard
for any institution to resist – vote for Mayne to send a message to
Macquarie to adhere to US law by banning staff from taking up shares in
any floats or capital raisings they are managing. If elected, I’ve even
promised to resign as soon as Macquarie makes the policy change, which
would be within days of any successful tilt.

It should be a no brainer for institutions because they are the people
getting shafted when the Millionaires scoop up big allocations.
However, don’t expect many of them to support the tilt because
Macquarie could easily exact some revenge by winding back future
allocations to those very institutions that took a stand.

For instance, the bank has just agreed to pay
$657 million for London bus operator Stagecoach, which has 4300 staff.
If Macquarie flips the business into an associated fund next year, the
usual slate of instos will be clamouring for a slice of the action.
Would Macquarie be less inclined to invite an institution to
participate if they voted for the outsider at the AGM? It’s an
interesting question.

Finally, the latest edition of the Chartered Secretaries Australia
magazine includes a 2,500 word piece I’ve knocked up on how AGMs should be run, so
let’s hope Macquarie takes some of the suggestions on board.

Peter Fray

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