John Singleton and Chairman Mark Carnegie fronted a relaxed, but somewhat arrogant board at the STW Holdings AGM in Sydney this morning. There were laughts a minute from the blokes club - though not a peep from quiet director Anne Keating - and the mirth continued as Crikey's resident shareholder activist, Stephen Mayne, piped up with his first question on the re-election of director John Singleton.
Singo revealed he blamed Peter Morgan, then at Perpetual and now running 452 Capital, for the institutions blocking STW Holdings' attempt to buy 2GB and Macquarie Radio four years ago, claiming the opportunity cost for STW Holdings shareholders was now $80-$90 million. However, it should be pointed out this institutional intervention predates the Alan Jones recruitment.
On the topic of managing his personal expenses, singo quipped "I spend everything I can as quickly as I can," noting that he didn't get paid a salary by any other company and that his $300,000 a year from STW was coming down each year as he crawled toward to grave.
After laughing off most of the questions Singo also thanked Mayne "for not asking about the assault charge" and in a sign of the playful mood of the board, Carnegie even enouraged Mayne (attending as a shareholder) to second the motion for Singo's re-election, which the records shows he did.
Mayne also questioned the future of the company should high-performing CEO Russell Tate depart. Carnegie revealed STW has Tate locked in on a 10 year contract, with the route to his freedom to be found in the reduction of his day to day activites - much as Singo has done over the years.
On the topic of Telstra, Tate was reluctant to reveal just how important they were to the company, saying they were "certainly not the biggest client", but after some hesitation said they were in the top six or seven accounts, with their contract due to expire in Oct 2006.
The worry is that with Ziggy Switkowski and his Singo-loving mate Ted Pretty, Telstra's consumer boss, most likely heading for the door in quick succession, will the new broom at Telstra keep STW Holdings on the slate?
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