23/04/2008 - 14:59

Stokes fails to roll WAN board

23/04/2008 - 14:59

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

Seven Network Ltd owner Kerry Stokes has failed in his bid to oust the board of West Australian Newspaper Holdings Ltd, with proxy votes narrowly in favour of the incumbent directors.

Seven Network Ltd owner Kerry Stokes has failed in his bid to oust the board of West Australian Newspaper Holdings Ltd, with proxy votes narrowly in favour of the incumbent directors.

When the count was finally tallied at about 6pm, the closest votes were regarding the motions to oust chiarman Peter Mansell and his fellow director Jenny Seabrook, as well as for the two independent candidates who received support from Mr Stokes, Peter Abery and Margaret Seares.

Mr Mansell and Ms Seabrook were supported by 53 per cent of around 144 million votes cast on the resolution to dump them.

Professor Seares and Mr Abery received around 47 per cent of the 140 million shares cast in the resolutions to appoint them.

Whilst Mr Stokes, who received around 40 per cent of the the 143 votes cast in the resultion to appoint him, lost his bid for a board seat and the incumbent directors retained their positions, the matter clearly remains unresolved.

Mr Mansell acknowledged that in meetings with major shareholders, they had said to him that the current board should try and find an accommodation with the company's largest shareholder.

A number of shareholders and candidates expressed their concern at the outcome of the meeting, and expressed their desire for a compromise to occur following the $1.5 million meeting.

Outside the meeting there was clearly a feeling from shareholders that there was a large amount of unfinished business, even if shareholders had chosen to rebuff Mr Stokes' direct assault on the board.

Australian Capital Equity advisory board chairman, Warwick Smith was touted as a potential representative of the Seven camp on the board under a future compromise.

Also underlining his credentials for board membership was Mr Abery who made a very convincing presentation to the large group of assembled shareholders.

He looked like a ready made candidate and several shareholders felt that his argument, that the company faced significant challenges in the market was valid and that new blood was needed at board level.

About 800 shareholders turned out to an extraordinary general meeting called by Mr Stokes who wanted the four non-executive directors on the board dumped after they refused to allow him a directorship.

The meeting was still underway at 4.00pm, with votes being taken from shareholders, however proxy votes already counted show a majority of shareholders want to keep the existing board.

Several shareholder in the open forum in the question and comment period expressed their disappointment at the board's decision to resign en masse if Mr Stokes or his chief executive Mr Gammel were elected.

The four incumbent directors are Mr Mansell, Mrs Seabrook, Mr Melvyn Ward and Mr Erich Fraunschiel.

Messrs Stokes and Gammell said they would support University of WA academic Prof Margaret Seares and Mr Peter Abery for election to the board.

Other candidates for a board position included Mr Mervyn Brewer, Mr Steve Harris, Mr Aidan Montague, Mr Stephen Mayne, Mr Keith Bales, Mr Kevin O'Keeffe and Ms Sharon Armour.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options