By Stephen Mayne
January 10, 2008
We thought we'd seen it all until the 2002 Skilled Engineering AGM when the children of founder Frank Hargrave were openly in dispute.
Crikey has seen it all now. Today's Skilled Engineering AGM blew up into a dispute between some of the children of founder, CEO and controlling shareholder Frank Hargrave.
Frank's illegitimate daughter Cheryl Hargrave got to her feet as the first questioner just before her dad was due to give his address and started asking questions about the skills and qualifications of Frank's second son Greg Hargrave, who has been fast-tracked through the company into the position of chief operating officer.
Cheryl's delivery was pretty ordinary as she was all over the place and clearly pretty nervous. But chairman Ken Loughnan was clearly aware of what was coming and kept cutting her off, asking her to resume her seat and telling her he'd answer the question.
The chairman reeled off all the positions Greg has held and claimed he's been doing a marvellous job for shareholders and the board was fully aware of succession planning in the company.
Cheryl probably should have left it at that but she got up to have another go when the red-haired bloke with big side-burns sitting one row behind and three seats down apparently took a half-hearted swing at her, although Crikey wasn't looking when the incident happened.
Was this one of Frank's sons? I don't know but Frank certainly has red hair. Cheryl claimed she'd been assaulted and at this point the PR flaks attempting to politely relieve her of the microphone were replaced by burly security guards who had words with both parties.
Crikey had to bail at this point as my best mate is visiting from Hong Kong and there is an appointment on the golf course at 2.10pm plus a commitment to get this edition out and also bone up for the regular spot with Virginia Trioli on ABC Victoria at 5.40pm this afternoon.
It will be interesting to see whether this story has any legs. Frank was widely praised for taking his illegitimate daughter back into the fold 13 years ago and Australian Story even retold events two years ago.
Frank is worth an estimated $260 million so some of you would speculate that money and prestige is probably at the heart of this dispute.
We've seen it before with the Ainsworth, Kirby, Belgiorno-Nettis and Moran families so there are other examples but I've never seen it explode onto the floor of an AGM before.
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