Shareholders association AGM in 2002

By Stephen Mayne
January 17, 2008

This report was sent to Crikey subscribers on April 19, 2002.

There wasn't too much froth and bubble at the ASA AGM in Sydney yesterday. Crikey made the trip from Melbourne but the 5 directors up for re-election went unchallenged and there was not much dissent from the floor.

Crikey raised a few issues, the first of which was the poor performance of the ASA in the outposts of Adelaide and Perth as evidenced at the News Corp and Orbital meetings which Crikey got to last year.

Chairman Ted Rofe basically said that everyone is scared of Rupert in Adelaide and it is hard to get shareholders to take him on.

I then had a go at the cosy relationship with Perpetual which sees the ASA sending around managed fund prospectuses to their members, inviting their heavies in to speak and opening up the pages of the bi-monthly magazine Equity to Perpetual executives.

It is true to say that Perpetual has the best record of speaking out about corporate governance of any Australian institutional investor, but Crikey is concerned these cosy deals will prevent necessary scrutiny of Perpetual by the ASA.

For instance, Richard Court's colourful brother Ken is on the Perpetual board and he's tied up with the finance broker scandal in WA. Then you have the issue of Perpetual being the third largest shareholder in British America Tobacco Australia before it was mopped up by the British parent last year. This takeover handed almost $200 million to Perpetual.

And doesn't Perpetual director Warwick Kent have a conflict of interest also sitting on the Commonwealth Bank board given that both companies are big players in funds management?

And with Perpetual shares going from $4 to $48 in 10 years, surely they are ripping off their customers with huge commissions? Shouldn't the ASA be campaigning against these excessive commissions? It sounds like they haven't even done a good deal as Perpetual gets to keep all the commissions from any ASA members that sign up.