Rio Tinto, the world's biggest mining company, got pilloried by shareholders, West Papuan refugees and environmental activists at its AGM in Melbourne this morning but, most extraordinarily, normally passive institutional shareholders turned on the board and voted down a resolution to change the constitution.
In one of the worst displays of arrogance I've seen from a company chairman, Paul "I've got a plum in my mouth" Skinner:
SM: Vote against Sir Rod Eddington's election because he disgraced himself and let News Corp shareholders down by tolerating Rupert Murdoch's deceptive poison pill acrobatics after the move to Delaware.Now obviously there's a bit of editorial licence on some of this paraphrasing, but it was a most unsatisfactory performance by the chairman and I'm predicting he will deservedly get a bollocking in the media. The news angles were coming thick and fast, so it will be interesting to see which way the media jumps.
SKINNER: Sir Rod's a fine fellow who took British Airways "from worst to first". News Corp is nothing to do with us.
SM: Given that Ashton Calvert was secretary of DFAT when Saddam collected most of his $300 million from AWB, will the board take into account the findings of the Cole inquiry?
SKINNER: Ashton's a fine fellow, we consider everything but he hasn't been directly dragged into the inquiry so far.
SM: Well done on dealing with those upstarts from Cazaly Resources over the Shovelenna deposit in WA. Great lobbying of the WA government, but how'd you pull it off?
SKINNER: We just presented the facts, no arm twisting. They'd banked our rent cheque for goodness sake. Of course we should have retained it and were very satisfied with the outcome. No mention of ever actually developing the dirt.
SM: Why don't we get the hell out of the giant Grasberg mine run by Freeport in West Papua? We've made a huge profit, the situation is deteriorating, the Australian government has deemed it unsafe for the 43 refugees to return. We don't need this.
SKINNER: Yes, a very tidy profit indeed. Not going into the detail of any potential sale mechanisms given is an unlisted direct 40% stake in parts of the operation. Freeport is the operator, of course, but I did spend a weekend there last year and everything looks fine.
SM: Stop treating us like mushrooms. History has been made with this resolution being rolled. Tell us the proxies.
SKINNER: Get stuffed!
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