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Perrott steps aside from board

ONE week after surviving a threatened Aliquot Asset Management boardroom spill, Michael Perrott and Antony Rigoll have avoided a similar battle with shareholders at Phosphate Resources Limited by stepping down as directors.

Mr Perrott, who was chairman of Phosphate Resources, and Mr Rigoll cited corporate governance and “duality of interest” issues as their reason for their retirement in an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

Both are directors of Asset Backed Holdings, which has the largest stake in the Christmas Island-based phosphate miner.

Their fellow Asset Backed and Phosphate Resources directors Peter Huston and David Argyle remain on the phosphate miner’s board.

A group of Phosphate Resources shareholders, led by Union of Christmas Island Workers secretary Gordon Thomson, had been pushing for an extraordinary general meeting to try and remove Mr Perrott, Mr Huston, Mr Argyle and Mr Rigoll from the company’s board.

It is understood that the meeting is unlikely to go ahead.

Mr Thomson said he saw Mr Perrott’s resignation from the miner’s board as a victory, having previously shown concern about Asset Backed’s growing stake in the mining company, which he believed should be controlled by the island’s workers.

He also issued a warning that the shareholders he represented, about 25 per cent of the company’s equity, intended to be more active in a corporate sense than they had previously. This still applied, Mr Thomson said, if Asset Backed sold any of its 26.7 per cent stake in Phosphate Resources.

“Whoever owns those shares will have a problem,” Mr Thomson said.

“Anyone else buying those shares would want to be benevolent.”

In an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Asset Backed and Phosphate Resources company secretary Neils Kroyer says Asset Backed will consider proposing other nominees to the Phosphate Resources board to represent its interests.

However, the announcement says these nominees will not be directors of Asset Backed or its related companies.

There has been speculation that Asset Backed could be reducing, or even selling, its 26.7 per cent stake in the miner. However, the ASX announcement says Asset Backed “is keen to advance and promote its equity and debt positions” in Phosphate Resources.

Mr Perrott, Mr Huston and Mr Rigoll had also been under pressure from shareholders of property management company Aliquot Asset Management who were scathing of the company’s poor performance and what they considered to be a high level of related party transact-ions. Asset Backed is Aliquot’s largest shareholder.

However, they saw off attempts to remove them from the Aliquot board by its second largest shareholder Equitilink eLink, led by its chairman Paul Crowther, by adding him and fellow Equitilink directors Bruce Burrell and Andrew Brown to the Aliquot board.

That compromise was found after a bitter battle during which Aliquot’s board took legal action against Equitilink in the lead up to an extraordinary general meeting on February 18.

Mr Crowther said the litigation was still in place despite the changes to the Aliquot board.

“We’re working through it to try and relieve the litigation issue,” he said.

Mr Crowther said he would be attending his first board meeting next Tuesday but was already encouraged by the changes that had been made at Aliquot.

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