10 questions asked at 2022 Link hybrid AGM

January 8, 2023

Here is the text of the 10 written questions asked at 2022 Link hybrid AGM held on November 30, plus a summary of the answers and some video grabs. Watch webcast archive of 100 minute meeting.

1. Well done for offering an excellent online experience with hybrid and virtual AGMs, both for yourself and hundreds of clients. Has the move to online AGMs since COVID been good for revenues and profits globally and how far advanced is Australia in this area compared with other markets.

Answer: chair Michael Carapiet say it has been good for revenues and Australia is generally ahead of other markets. Watch video via Twitter.

2. Corporate elections are not secret ballots. Share registry providers like Link routinely provide companies with access to data on who is voting for and against each resolution and companies can then lobby shareholders to change their vote. Given this lack of privacy and fairness in a contested board election, is there a risk to our business that an organisation like the Australian Electoral Commission or their state counterparts could be mandated to oversee contested corporate elections, just like they run union elections.

Answer: chair not at all worried.

3. The likes of Dexus, Brambles, NAB, JB Hi Fi, Origin Energy, Viva Energy and many other companies have all disclosed the proxy votes to the ASX before their latest AGMs started along with the formal addresses. Why didn't we do this so that interested shareholders and other stakeholders, including institutional investors and proxy advisers, have an early insight into the proxy position before the AGM debate commences. Also, has there been a material protest vote against the chairman's election today on the proxies?

Answer: no commitments to change.

4. Outgoing ACCC chairman Rod Sims specifically mentioned PEXA as a business with enormous market power and not a lot of competition in his farewell address to the National Press Club. Who are PEXA's main competitors and what sort of barriers to entry does the business have? Is it a natural monopoly and, if so, which regulator could potentially get involved in terms of setting its prices like with a regulated utility?

Answer: dismissive CEO said this was an issue for the PEXA AGM.

5. Michael was the foundation chair of Link when it floated in October 2015. After 7 tumultuous years in the role, is he intending to serve a full 3 year term if Link remains a public company. Also, what was the history of Macquarie's involvement with Link and the decision to offer Michael the chair when the business floated?

Answer: as earlier explained, it has been hard to manage succession planning with all these takeover offers.

6. Link floated at almost $7 a share in 2015 and the stock is today $3.49. At one level, it's another example of private equity flipping an over-priced roll-up onto public investors? Does Michael think the company was over-priced at the float or did it just make execution errors post listing? What are Michael's 3 biggest regrets over the past 7 years and what in particular did Link get right after it listed?

Answer: there was a legislative hit that wiped $50m off profit with the stroke of a pen, plus chair said they should have moved faster on an integration exercise. Also blamed Brexit. Watch video via Twitter plus here is second 2 minutes.

Thank you to the chair for his frank response to that earlier question on his regrets. What did Anne think of the chairman's comments and does she have any additional thoughts on any mis-steps Link made during her time on the board. For instance, did we retain foundation CEO John McMurtrie for too long and give him too much latitude to pursue strategies such as the big UK expansion?

Answer: declined to add much but agreed with chair.

Poison pen Financial Review gossip columnist Joe Aston took a shot at our CEO over his history at Wesfarmers Insurance. Could the CEO please respond. Was it a fair criticism?

Answer: chair invited the CEO to comment and he refused simply saying ask people at Wesfarmers. Watch video via Twitter.

9. We just suffered a rem strike with no debate, partly because proxy disclosure was delayed. Has there been a similar 30% protest on this resolution too and which proxy advisers recommended against?

Answer: chair said proxy advice was a private matter. Watch video via Twitter.

10. When disclosing the outcome of voting on all resolutions today, could you please advise the ASX how many shareholders voted for and against each item, similar to what happens with a scheme of arrangement? This will provide a better gauge of retail shareholder sentiment on all resolutions and was a disclosure initiative adopted by the likes of Metcash, Altium and Dexus last year and Webjet and Tabcorp so far this AGM season.

Answer: no promises.