A drone-fest from Pasminco chairman Mark Rayner

By Stephen Mayne
January 17, 2008

This story was published in The Daily Telegraph after the Pasminco AGM on October 28, 1998.

While nothing could surpass the dramatic involvement of former Newcrest managing director John Quinn at the gold company's annual meeting, other AGMs yesterday threw up some interesting developments.

Mark Rayner, Australia's busiest chairman, was on display for the first time in the 1998 AGM season at the annual meeting of lead and zinc mining giant, Pasminco.

Mr Rayner, who is also chairman of National Australia Bank and Mayne Nickless, borrowed from John Ralph's defence at the Foster's Brewing annual meeting on Tuesday to deny he was too busy or not performing. He also sits on the Boral board.

Despite a woeful share performance, Pasminco remains relatively popular with shareholders and is delivering the Century zinc mine in north-west Queensland on time and under budget for an estimated $850 million.

After answering about eight of my questions, sometimes with longwinded droning replies, Mr Rayner suggested he "put a stop to this". Later he politely suggested I ask fewer questions at the upcoming Mayne Nickless annual meeting and not give a preamble explaining this series in The Daily Telegraph.

After the meeting, Mr Rayner and Pasminco chief executive Dave Stewart, who I argued was underpaid and should be getting more than 400,000 options at $1.84, held a press conference which went into more detail with journalists about the $452 million bid for Savage Resources.

Savage shares closed 1c higher at 91c, 6c above the bid price of 85c, but Pasminco was talking tough, insisting the offer was fully priced and expressing confidence it would not have to lift its bid.

The other major annual meeting in Melbourne yesterday was an upbeat gathering of shareholders in drug company Biota. Shares in the company earlier closed 14c higher at $5.20 after Biota's partner in developing its flu treatment Relenza, Glaxo Wellcome, revealed it had filed the drug with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adding to previous filings in Australia, Europe and Canada.

After more than 10 years of development, Chairman Brian Healey said the world-leading Relenza could also be on the US market by at the start of the northern hemisphere winter in 1999 and in Australia as early as March next year.