As Victorians were getting ready to vote last Friday, a frenzy of corporate elections were taking place across Australia.

The ASX requires companies to hold their annual general meeting within five months of year-end, so the last working day in November is always the busiest day of the year for corporate democracy. The Australian Shareholders’ Association has been running a campaign for the past year against companies waiting until the last possible day to reveal their results or hold their AGMs.

However, it doesn’t seem to have changed behaviour so far, because a whopping 233 companies still opted to have their AGMs last Friday.

Taking out the trash on a Friday afternoon is a common tactic for newsmakers wishing to bury bad news, so let’s have a look at whether there was much embarrassing news buried in the deluge.

In terms of getting their voting results onto the ASX company announcements platform, this is how they rolled out on Friday:

  • Before 11am: 5
  • 11am-12pm: 14
  • 12pm-1pm: 22
  • 1-2pm: 25
  • 2-3pm: 33
  • 3-4pm: 41
  • 4-5pm: 29
  • 5-6pm: 22
  • 6-7pm: 20
  • After 7pm: 4

You can see the full chronological list here.

Of the 233 ASX AGM results announcements, 156 were not controversial as there was no meaningful protest vote exceeding 5% on any resolution.

However, 77 of them did run into some form of resistance from shareholders. That’s much higher than average. And there’s some fun to be had with some of these tiddlers.

For instance, if you want to see what a seriously rejected remuneration report looks like, go no further than the grand-sounding Perth-based company Globe Metals and Mining, which received just 539,455 votes in favour of its remuneration report and a whopping 122.6 million against. That’s rejection from more than 99% of voted shares.

Elsewhere, Astro Resources were naughty boys as the remuneration report was in first strike territory, but they declared it passed on the show of hands. Where’s ASIC when you need it?

Liberty Resources shareholders were clearly in revolt as proposed option grants to a couple of directors were smashed with more than 80% against. The remuneration report was also defeated.

Xanadu Mines deserves credit for a very well set out voting statement, complete with useful percentages where appropriate. Contrast that with International Equities, which didn’t even include the actual voting results.

South Melbourne-based Enviro Mission must have set some sort of record with a staggering 42 items of business up for consideration.

Primary Health Care was the only ASX200 company that delayed its AGM until the last day, so it was fitting that they copped a remuneration strike and a 43% protest against a non-independent director.

There was also quite a mutiny at Mutiny Gold, with material protest votes across the board.

When directors are defeated they normally resign before the meeting to avoid the ignominy of formal defeat in the poll. Not so with Golden Cross Resources director Xun Qiu, who got smashed with only 8.75 million votes in favour and 44.2 million against.

One other interesting feature of the deluge was that only 215 of the 233 companies managed to get their results through to the ASX by 8.30pm on Friday night. A further 18 results dribbled through on Monday. Platypus Minerals was an example of holding back the bad news, with 46% against its remuneration report and 30% against a long-term incentive grant.

We’ll let you know next year if there is any reduction in the numbers of last-day laggards, because it really is faintly ridiculous that more than 10% of all listed companies hold their AGM on the last day possible.

Peter Fray

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