2009 NAB AGM video highlights

January 7, 2010

There was plenty of good debate at the 2009 NAB AGM in Brisbane on November 17 over the shafting of retail shareholders. Watch the videos from the meeting which is a great example of how companies should webcast.

Whilst the board tilt received 5% support, which was better than the two previous runs at the Fairfax Media and Network Ten AGMs, the key issue of poor treatment of retail shareholders received little coverage because the media was understandably focused on NAB's $4.6 billion bid for Axa's Australasian business.

However, here's what Queensland's Courier Mail newspaper reported the next day.

Mayne wants in
Courier Mail's City Beat column, December 18, 2009
By James McCullough

Your diarist thought former journalist, one time owner of Crikey and now shareholder activist Stephen Mayne was about to say he was at the historic NAB AGM in Brisbane yesterday to "keep the bastards honest''. But no, that particular line did not come from Mayne's mouth. Rather he said he was standing for election as a director of the bank because he vehemently objected to the bank's recent capital raisings, which he said severely disadvantaged retail investors and benefited institutional investors.

Mayne, who City Beat reckons got more airtime at the AGM than the NAB chairman, Michael Chaney, told shareholders that his standing for the board position was a "last resort'' because his crusade to promote what he considered to be unfairness in the recent capital raisings fell on deaf ears.

Mayne confided that he had applied to sit on the board of 40 companies recently, and last week obtained 1 per cent of the total vote to try and get elected to the board of Ten. "I am hoping I get a slightly larger margin here,'' he told shareholders.

Opportunity knocks for our largest bank
Courier Mail, December 18, 2009
By James McCullough

National Australia Bank, the country's largest, is investigating mergers and acquisitions, or even offloading its British operations in the troubled UK market. NAB chief executive Cameron Clyne told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Brisbane yesterday that the UK and New Zealand markets had not performed well for the bank.

However, he said the Clydesale and Yorkshire banks had remained profitable and had not required British Government bailout packages.

Mr Clyne said there had been significant consolidation in Britain, and there was more to come.

"We have been approached by a number of players in the UK to see how we could participate,'' he said. "These approaches indicate that in our Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks, we have a high-quality asset that is an attractive platform for participation in UK market developments.''

Mr Clyne said the group was exploring and assessing how these approaches could benefit the bank and its shareholders. He did not say NAB was considering selling its British operations, but rather would consider all offers and opportunities moving forward.

It was the first time NAB has held its AGM in Brisbane, as part of its decision to offer shareholders around the country greater access to the bank, although NAB was very shy on its Queensland aspirations. Asked whether NAB had been talking to Suncorp about the Queensland group's banking or insurance operations, Mr Clyne offered a blunt "no comment''. "That is market-sensitive,'' he said.

NAB chairman Michael Chaney said the bank's future direction was dependent on increased presence in business banking and wealth management, hence the proposed $4.61 billion acquisition of AXA's Australasian operations. He said AXA would likely be consolidated under the MLC NAB brand and offer a valuable base for the wealth management business. MLC and AXA were among the most trusted brands in the country, and on the heels of NAB's Aviva acquisition AXA was a good fit for the bank.

During the 2 1/2-hour AGM, the bank board came under heavy criticism from shareholders for its remuneration for executives and NAB's recent capital raisings. Some shareholders argued the raisings had favoured institutional, rather than retail, investors.

Stephen Mayne, a shareholder activist who unsuccessfully stood for election to the bank's board, said NAB raised $3.2 billion through an institutional placement in December and another $2 billion via a placement in July, and retail investors were severely cut back.
Mr Chaney said at the time the bank needed $3.2 billion and the institutions had committed to the bulk of the raising. "Your comments indicate a lack of understanding about how the bank runs,'' Mr Chaney said.

"I cannot accept your comments or inference that there was some sort of neglect toward retail investors by the board.''

Mr Chaney, along with directors Paul Rizzo, Michael Ullmer, Mark Joiner and John Waller, were all re-elected to the bank board.