24/04/2008 - 15:34

WAN votes show value of incumbency

24/04/2008 - 15:34

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The value of incumbency was reinforced with today's release of voting details by WA Newspapers Holdings Ltd which reveals an even tighter race than shareholders at the meeting were told.

WAN votes show value of incumbency

The value of incumbency was reinforced with today's release of voting details by WA Newspapers Holdings Ltd which reveals an even tighter race than shareholders at the meeting were told.

The proxy summary shows more shareholders voted to remove Peter Mansell as WAN chairman than voted for him to stay - 65.6 million shares versus 64.9 million shares - with his survival ensured by 11.7 million undecided proxies which appeared to have been voted at his discretion.

In the case of WAN director Jenny Seabrook around 10,000 votes separated those who wanted her removed from those who wanted her retained before 11.7 million undecided proxies appear to have been voted by the chairman in her favour.

A source close to WAN said that shareholders were clearly informed on the proxy form that undecided shares would be voted against the resolutions.

The closeness of this part of the vote - noting that 40 million of those shares were owned by Seven Network Ltd - was not known to shareholders or observers at the meeting, whose votes favoured the current board by a comfortable margin, albeit making little difference to the end result.

For instance, 65.6 million shares were voted to oust Mr Mansell via proxy compared to 66.1 million after the meeting voted, an increase of just under 450,000 from the meeting.

There were 64.9 million vote to keep the chairman installed via proxy, compared to a final vote of 77.4 million.

When undecided proxies are removed it indicates that just 775,000 votes were obtained by Mr Mansell at the meeting.

However, the shareholders were more clear cut in voicing their disapproval for Seven's representatives Kerry Stokes and Peter Gammell.

For instance, the votes via proxy were 56.9 million favouring Mr Stokes and 70.8 million against. The 14.6 million in undecided proxies used at the chairman's discretion would only just have exceeded this deficit and, again, the votes at the meeting clearly favoured the existing board's opposition to Mr Stoke's desire for a board seat.

In the case of Professor Margaret Seares the proxy votes clearly went her way at 60.5 million for her appointment and 56.8 million against, until 22.5 million undecided proxies came into play.

At that point, some of the undecided proxies were clearly used in her favour, resulting in a 66.7 million favourable votes compared to a 74.2 million unfavourable vote.

And the other independent candidate backed by the Stokes camp, Peter Abery, also fared well in the first round, with proxies putting him ahead by around 75,000 votes before 25.1 million undecided proxies were employed - though not all against him.

The post-meeting result was 66.1 million votes in favour and 75.5 million against.


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