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

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today and get your first 12 weeks for $12.

Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW