After chairing his longest ever AGM, Macquarie Bank co-founder David
Clarke was clearly quite exasperated with the whole process as he
hurried off to take a much-needed leak once the polls were called.
However, when Clarke later complained about the quality of debate
during the four hour saga, I told him that he was part of the
problem because as chairman of the meeting he should have shut down the wafflers more
assertively.

For instance, we finally got onto the remuneration report two hours
into the meeting and Clarke tolerated an opening contribution of ten
minutes from an Indian chap on the merits of options. After three
minutes
he should have said, “Excuse me sir, do you have a question?”

As usual, the bloke who wasted the most time was Crazy Jack Tilburn. JP
Morgan’s top-rated banking analyst Brian Johnson reflected the views
of many when he started sledging Tilburn
for raving and branded him “outrageous”. In unprecedented scenes which
the gossip columns all ignored today, Tilburn then went over to
Johnston and started poking him in the chest and then invited him
outside
for a punch-up.

“Order, order,” said chairman Clarke as Johnson declined the invitation and Crazy Jack returned to his seat.

I rang Crazy Jack this morning and he answered the phone as follows:
“Good morning, it’s quarter to 12, this is Jack Tilburn speaking.” He
confirmed that he will turn 80 on 15 November and that he did indeed
say the following to Johnson: “Listen pal, if you interrupt me again
you can meet me outside. I’ll take you on any day.”

This really is a shame because we desperately need analysts like
Johnson improving the level of debate at AGMs, but then he gets
physically threatened by a retired teacher who has lost his marbles.

Johnson has spoken gushingly about the
Millionaires Factory at the last four AGMs and did it again yesterday,
although he also appeared to extract a confirmation that Macquarie has
just pocketed a profit of between $100 million and $200 million selling
its North American oil and gas assets.

Clarke also disenfranchised shareholders who bothered attending the AGM
by having a poll on all resolutions and not disclosing the proxies
until after all ballots were cast at about 3pm. This was designed to
avoid the embarrassment of the remuneration report going down on the
floor of the meeting or my tilt getting up.

Ron Walker was certainly a little embarrassed last year when I had the
numbers on the floor of the Fairfax AGM and beating Rupert on the floor
in 2002 led to this Latelinedebate.

A poll takes the final election result out of the AGM but, amusingly, Macquarie Bank’s initial announcement to the ASX at 5.10pm yesterday declared that that “all eight motions were passed by the requisite majorities”. This correction
landed at 5.37pm pointing out that Macquarie had actually recorded the
first defeated resolution of its ten-year history as a listed company, albeit not one the board endorsed.

Peter Fray

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