Heading to LA, CBA issues, strong Fairfax support, Cabcharge push and state election update

November 15, 2014

Dear Mayne Report readers,

First up, many thanks to everyone who responded to the crowd sourcing appeal in the last edition to catch up with Rupert Murdoch at his two AGMs at Fox Studios later this week.

More than 30 donors generously contributed almost $3500, hence I'll be on a flight to Los Angeles this afternoon.

In other AGM season action, Commonwealth Bank chairman David Turner gave up 45 minutes of his day yesterday for a catch-up ahead of today's AGM in Melbourne. It was a good discussion on a wide range of issues including the financial planning blow-up and how a chair-succession should be handle.

Am not expecting to be north of 5% in terms of votes cast at CBA today but am hoping a majority of the retail shareholders who choose to vote will support the nomination.

This is what happened at Fairfax where a miserable 0.92% of votes cast were in favour but retail investor sentiment was completely different with the proxies showing 902 shareholders voting in favour and only 495 voting against.

I'm indebted to Fairfax for voluntarily disclosing this data and made a similar request to David Turner yesterday.

If CBA also discloses this, which accords with Australian Shareholders' Association policy to better understand retail voting sentiment at AGMs, what it will confirm is a complete divide between the big and small shareholders.

The big proxy advisers Ownership Matters, CGI and ISS are very conservative when it comes to outside candidates and rarely endorse a challenge to the incumbents. And their clients tend to agree with this "don't rock the boat" attitude.

This system deserves to be heavily scrutinised and a no brainer reform should be mandatory disclosure of how institutions vote, something which applies to mutual funds in the US.

Recent Crikey stories on AGM season

I'll be filing for Crikey on the Rupert gatherings in LA this week but will also be sending a Mayne Report update after returning home on Saturday morning. Crikey is running a story most days on the AGM season and here is what has appeared so far:

Time for Max to face his own axe at Southern Cross AGM
Crikey, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gina the wildcard at Fairfax AGM
Crikey, Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Transurban out-plays Labor and Liberal in Victoria
Crikey, Friday, October 10, 2014

A guide to the major media company AGMs
Crikey, Monday, October 13, 2014

Companies for old men: the codgers who won't let of their board seats
Crikey, Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why is The OZ spinning for overpaid and underworked Gina Rinehart?
Crikey, Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why the Senate should not abolish 100 signature rule for EGMs
Crikey, Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Director protests overtaking remuneration reports
Crikey, Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Revealed: Murdoch salaries top $600m from News Corp
Crikey, Monday, November 3, 2014

A full history lesson on Packer, Crown and Victorian Labor
Crikey, Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wrap of the 2014 Fairfax Media AGM
Crikey, Friday, November 7

Succession challenges for the Commonwealth Bank
Crikey, Monday, November 10

Expect big protests at the Cabcharge AGM
Crikey, Tuesday, November 12, 2014

Out of the state election

It would have been great to participate in the November 29 Victorian election but logistically it all just got too much in the end.

There would have been a tilt against Planning Minister Matthew Guy in my local seat of Bulleen, but then he delivered spectacularly on a City of Melbourne request to release the departmental reports on all these skyscrapers he has been approving.

Then there was a serious look at running in marginal Albert Park, but when rocker Tex Perkins entered the field, the call was made to endorse his efforts to shake up the marginal seat contest.

Tex should be good for more than 10% of the vote and will be the kingmaker. The party which delivers on a commitment to fix up the iconic Palais Theatre in St Kilda will get his preferences. Even the Rolling Stones have publically called for this to happen.

The other consideration was the forthcoming tilt at the Cabcharge board, which is a serious and prospective undertaking.

The Cabcharge AGM is on November 26 in Sydney, the Wednesday before the state election. I've been in contact with proxy advisers, big shareholders and lots of taxi driver shareholders on this one and am pushing hard to be a "governance change agent" who gets off the board after a year, once 3 new independent directors have been appointed with strong governance, technology and payments systems expertise.

The days of non-independent taxi industry veterans dominating the poorly governed company's board room should be over, especially given the major competitive threats from the likes of Uber.

It's firmly in the hands of the Cabcharge shareholders, as was explained in this Crikey piece yesterday.

Tap into ASA's excellent research lists

Any retail investor worth their salt should be a member of the Australian Shareholders' Association and the value proposition has never been better.

The new ASA website has a growing list of interesting research lists, some of which are member-only behind the paywall. Here are a few favourites:

Longest serving ASX 200 directors

New CEOs who embrace write-offs

Biggest protest votes against directors in 2013

Measuring independent chairs for "skin in the game"

Capped SPPs which were then expanded

How retail investors do worse with separate bookbuilds

The 100 most important remuneration protest votes

31 examples of where retail investors gathered 100 signatures

ASA won't be continuing its recent practice of having voting intentions free on the website this season.

However, "subscribers" who merely give their details will get plenty of access so that's definitely worth doing.

And if you want to see all the research plus the full archive of AGM reports and voting recommendations since 2009, you really should become a member. Click here.

From the member edition archive

The Mayne Report goes to almost 18,000 people but if you're a relatively new reader, here are some links to some of the more interesting email editions sent out over the past seven years.


Tilts, Fairfax, CBA, Brickworks, Albert Park, ASX, Woolies, pokies and CrownFriday, September 19, 2014

We're back: inside a post-ASA election season blitz
Monday, September 15, 2014


Capital raisings, Ansell, IAG, Packer, pokies, Rich List, City of Melbourne and ASA update
Monday, December 23, 2013

Franking robbery, East West trust breach, BHP bonuses, John Gay and plenty more
Sunday, August 25, 2013

ASA policy paper, Kevin Andrews on the pokies, Senate preferences and much more
August 19, 2013

ASA, Billabong, Westfield, Newcrest, Shorten, Turnbull, pokies and then some
Monday, July 22, 2013

Rudd v Gillard, referendum, Labor sleaze, Clive Palmer, ASA, City of Melbourne and plenty more
Monday, June 24, 2013


Backing Rudd, Lachlan Murdoch, Bob Brown media debate, Manningham governance, Gunns, Darebin, Lend Lease and St Kilda AGM appearance
Monday, February 20, 2012

The OZ goes mad, Murdoch piracy, AFR, pokies double rate, Gina unfit for Ten, council super blowout, BoQ rip-off, power speech and AGM mini-season
Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Murdoch special, media inquiry, pokies, Manningham win, Zara, secretive Shortenite councillors and a Vodafone take-down
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Elected to ASA board, pokies, Rio, Santos, RHG, Hartigan, Manningham, capital raisings and Rich List
Thursday, May 19, 2011


Paperlinx, Packer, Murdoch, Manningham, pokies, Rich ex wives, foreign takeovers and much more
Saturday, October 23, 2010

DJs, legislate women on boards, ex Lib goes no pokies, preferences, Pratt-Shorten, Labor's debt, AG's report, Manningham council audio and then some
August 3, 2010

Director rankings, Rio, Westfield, New Matilda, MAP, Manningham, Paatsch, state election, Darebin, Moreland, rich list, pokies and much more
June 9, 2010

Political donations, Stokes, Westfield tower, Richard Colless, Manningham nursing home, state debt, Rich List, Grand Prix and more
February 23, 2010


Seven AGM, crazy Perth visit, Fairfax, Telstra, Transfield, capital raisings and much more
November 9, 2009

News Corp AGM, Packer, Fairfax, James Strong, Woolies, Eastern Golf, Kohler-Gatto and much more
October 20, 2009

Bad Bendigo, Mark Day, Manningham, pokies, NAB, Asciano, Rich List, Paladin, hostile EGMs and much more
September 15, 2009

Macquarie AGM, Melbourne's decline, Asciano EGM, capital raisings, Goyder's pokies, speeches, fire, AGM diary and much more
July 28, 2009

2008 as the GFC hit and before we got overloaded at Manningham

71% backing at Centro, $11bn backing at BHP and huge Qantas protest
November 28, 2008

Combank's $700m ABC Learning debacle
November 13, 2008

Computershare AGM, Seven wash-up, audio highlights and ABC Learning chair under pump at Lend Lease
November 11, 2008

Toll board skewered over $55m executive rort
October 30, 2008

Transurban shareholder revolution - chairman almost defeated
October 28, 2008

A huuuuge day for Australian corporate governance
October 22, 2008

Rupert's accountability dodge, Macquarie's Italian hit, Babcock funds revamp, pokieact.org and rich lists.
October 20, 2008

BHP and Woolies tilts, AFIC push on Stan Wallis, ASX-Kohler yarn and new Rich Listers
September 26, 2008

Risk Metrics nails Macquarie and Babcock
September 18, 2008

Macquarie videos, Stokes raid, new board tilt, Oz Minerals, share trading and much more
July 25, 2008

Hegarty Payout rolled, history is made
July 18, 2008

Great debate at the Babcock AGM
May 30, 2008

Our liveliest edition yet
Thursday, May 8, 2008

Burrows quits, Rupert, donations, long-serving directors and much more
January 31, 2008

Markets tumble, Rupert book deal, Centro, Rich List, Xenophon, AFR tips and our buying spree
January 17, 2008


Fortescue Metals AGM: time for Twiggy and FMG to grow up
Sunday, November 8, 2007, 10.30pm

How $5bn worth of votes backed us against Rupert's dodgy gerrymander
Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 7.20am

Gotta fly, there's a plane to catch and AGM season matters to attend to.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

* The Mayne Report is an email newsletter and website which seeks to promote transparency and good governance in the corporate, political and media worlds. It is published by Stephen Mayne, the founder of Crikey.com, shareholder advocate and City of Melbourne councillor. To unsubscribe from this email list, click here.