January 13, 2008
This report appeared in the Hobart Mercury on November 30, 2000, after the feisty AGM of embattled garden products group Arthur Yates.
Prime Minister John Howard's brother just managed to be re-elected to the board of Arthur Yates yesterday, as shareholders heckled the embattled garden group's directors.
Frustrated shareholders grilled Yates chairman Stanley Howard, its three other directors, finance officer and new managing director Ian Fraser for two hours at a fiery annual general meeting in Sydney.
Angered by the company's $7.11 million net loss in 1999-2000 and an expected $1.7 million pre-tax loss this year, investors even called for board members to forego their remuneration until they had dug Yates out of its hole.
Yates said it was pushing ahead with a much-needed equity injection proposal, despite the package valuing the struggling garden group's shares significantly below their market price.
Mr Howard, 70, said he would normally have retired as a director – a position he has held since Yates' listing in 1993 – but felt a duty to ``stay with the ship while we endeavour to turn it around''.
Mr Howard, who presided over the AGM despite still recovering from a hip operation, refused to respond to what he called an ``attack'' on his track record with companies by shareholder activist Stephen Mayne.
Only three of the more than 120 shareholders at the Yates AGM voted in favour of Mr Howard's re-election, but he survived on the basis of proxy votes.
Yates shares fell to a new all-time low of 24c yesterday before closing 4.5c weaker at 25c – a far cry from 98c last December.
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