The final major public company AGM of the year kicks off at 2pm this afternoon when shareholders in fertiliser giant Incitec Pivot gather at Jeff’s Shed on the banks of the Yarra.

More than one year after the dramatic implosion of the Centro shopping centre empire, the Incitec Pivot AGM will mark the final public appearance of Centro’s long-serving chairman Brian Healey.

Healey first became chairman of Centro Properties Group in 1993. Despite watching more than $7 billion of equity disappear after the debt crisis last December, it still took another six months before he finally quit on 1 July this year.

I fronted last year’s Incitec Pivot AGM and encouraged a speedy retirement for Healey, who didn’t even turn up. Check out what happened here.

However, Healey hung on for grim death and will finally retire today when his three-year term expires.

Despite watching David Ryan, the chairman of ABC Learning, get re-elected to the Transurban and Lend Lease boards this AGM season, Healey wasn’t prepared to seek another three-year term at Incitec Pivot.

Maybe this has something to do with the fact he’s 74 and one of the oldest non-executive directors in Australia.

Or maybe he was spooked by the 42.5% against vote meted out to former Allco Finance Group director Barbara Ward at the Qantas AGM last month.

Whilst the Ward protest was substantial, it remains an absolute disgrace that ABC Learning’s long-time audit committee chairman still serves on the Transurban and Lend Lease boards.

Similarly, the promised protest vote against ANZ chairman Charles Goode failed to materialise yesterday when he was re-elected for another three years with 855.3 million votes in favour and only 51.4 million against.

Having overseen the Opes Prime fiasco and botched ANZ’s succession planning, shareholders have chosen not to send a message to their 70-year-old chairman who first joined the board way back in 1991.

Then again, ANZ shareholders have form in this regard. When BHP wrote off close to $10 billion in the 1990s, many thought then-chairman Jerry Ellis would be struck off from the directors’ club.

Instead, he stayed with ANZ and was even given a 99% mandate when last up for election in 2006. Given Ellis is chairman of the risk committee, is anyone surprised that Opes Prime blew up?

The Australian Shareholders’ Association yesterday targeted NAB’s risk committee chairman Paul Rizzo over the $1 billion CDO write-off, but the resolution to sack him fell flat with only 56.2 million in favour and 770 million against.

Clearly, Australia still has a very long way to go to create a culture of accountability for poorly-performing public company directors.

Click here to listen to Eddie McGuire’s big attack on Stephen Mayne at the Collingwood AGM on Wednesday night.

Peter Fray

Inoculate yourself against the spin

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 to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW