Alinta steps up on board

ALINTAGAS shareholders voted for a 50 per cent increase in payments to board members at last week’s AGM, an apparent vote of confidence at a time when corporate management fees are being questioned across Australia. The company gained the approval of shareholders to pay its directors a combined $600,000 per year, up from $400,000 for previous years.

For the financial year ended December 31 2002, the company’s eight board members received a total of $373,904.

Of this amount, chairman Tony Howarth received $100,000 in fees and $8,500 in superannuation.

Mr Howarth told those at last week’s gathering that Alinta did not intend to utilise all of the $600,000 initially, but that the increase was necessary to retain and attract directors with the appropriate experience and qualifications.

It would also afford the board greater flexibility to appoint further non-executive directors, he said.

Mr Howarth will receive an annual $126,000, and non-executive directors, $63,000.

The Alinta board currently has four non-executive directors and two alternate directors.

Executive director and chief executive officer Bob Browning received a combined $1.311 million during the financial year ended December 31 2002.

This week Clayton Utz released research initiated to test street-talk that insurance cover for company directors and officers was drying up.

A five-month study commissioned from Strategic Risk and Insurance Solutions revealed the talk was not completely accurate.

The survey of nine Australian-based insurers and seven brokers found insurers were conducting more due diligence on the boards they insured, and requiring companies to divulge more information than that with which they were accustomed.

However, companies’ capacities and willingness to satisfy requirements were increasing, mostly due to a greater focus by companies on not only how to implement best practice processes, but also how to communicate this. The news is not all good, though, with only a little more than a dozen insurers willing to write directors and officers liability insurance.

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