How fortunate for Babcock and Brown Infrastructure that Telstra also had its AGM yesterday – the kerfuffle over Sol’s wage nicely overshadowed a BBI remuneration report that made Telstra’s look parsimonious.

What with the Telstra, CBA and Coles meetings, BBI was lucky to get a mention anywhere, with only the SMH seeming to notice some shareholders weren’t entirely happy to see 20% of their company’s mediocre profits going in fees to Babcock and Brown in a gouge that would make Macquarie Bank jealous.

But what’s breath-taking in its arrogance is that BBI executives are rewarded with shares not in BBI, but in BNB. Nice to see just with whom management’s interests are aligned – the body to which shareholders pay massive fees.

The big surprise at yesterday’s meeting was that only 31% voted against the remuneration report. One must presume the rest were either conflicted or simply stupid. If the latter, please send me all your money c/- Crikey and I promise to live every bit as well as BNB executives.

When it came to re-electing directors, there was a sizeable protest vote of 21% against BNB heavy Peter Hofbauer. Must have been those fees sticking in a few folks’ throats.

Little wonder BNB’s Phil Green sees the deal flow continuing whatever the global financial crisis – those involved have plenty of incentives to make sure it does.

As to BBI’s stock market performance in these record-breaking times, well, it’s none too flash. The shares are back where they were in the first half of 2005. They did enjoy a surge earlier this year, but that was all over by mid-year, well before the global credit confidence crunch.

Maybe some investors dislike the structure, fees and remuneration system so much, they just don’t buy the shares. Makes sense.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey