History of Endeavour Group, including activism campaigning

January 9, 2024

This page tracks the history of pokies giant Endeavour Group, including activist campaigns to get Bruce Mathieson and Woolworths to the reform table.

July 2, 2004: Woolworths and Bruce Mathieson joint venture vehicle reveals a 16% stake in ALH purchased at an average $2.62 per share.

July 8, 2004: BruandWo launch a cash bid for ALH priced at $2.75 per share.

July 9, 2004: Bruandwo lodge 59 page bidder statement.

September 30, 2004: ALH board endorses revised Bruandwo bid at $3.15 per share.

October 15, 2004: ALH recommends all cash rival bid from Coles Myer and Macquarie Bank at $3.35 per share.

October 22, 2004: after a raft of rival bids, Coles and Macquarie lodge their final offer at $3.75 per share.

October 25, 2004: Bruandwo lodge their final winning $3.76 per share cash offer.

October 27, 2023: Foster's sells 10% stake in ALH to Bruandwo at $3.76 per share, effectively ending the auction with Coles and Macquarie.

February 28, 2005: ALH releases its final half year result as a public company, coming in with a $17m net loss and booking a ridiculous $45 million in takeover defence costs.

March 2, 2005: The Woolworths-Mathieson takeover bid for ALH closes with 99.3% acceptances.

November 2006: Stephen Mayne ran for the Woolworths board on a pokies reform agenda.

November 2010: Stephen Mayne ran for the Woolworths board on a pokies reform agenda and was surprised to receive a healthy 6.6% of support. See Mayne Report package

November 27, 2014:
Stephen Mayne ran for the Woolworths board on a pokies reform agenda and received 4% support in the poll. See results and notice of meeting.

November 2017:
City of Darebin independent councillor and fearsome pokies reform activist Susan Rennie runs for the Woolworths board, delivering this powerful speech about the damage caused by their reckless pokies operation.

August 2018: more embarrassing revelations by Nick O'Malley in The SMH about the reckless way Woolworths was gathering and sharing data on their most lucrative addicted pokies gamblers.

July 3, 2019: Woolworths announces intention to demerge Endeavour Group and retain a 14.6% in the business. Presentation starts the lie that gambling revenue in the group is only about $700m.

November 4, 2019: Federal Court approves release of 90 page restructure booklet ahead of shareholder vote to create a new vehicle 44.7% owned by Bruce Mathieson with the balance held by Woolworths. It discloses transaction costs of $108 million and that Woolworths had lent ALH more than $2 billion on favourable terms. The interim new shareholding agreement between Woolies and Mathieson requires unanimous approval on all major decision and lets Mathieson appoint 3 of the 8 Endeavour Group directors. This lapses at the point of demerger.

December 6, 2019: Woolworths announces Peter Hearl as the proposed independent Endeavour chairman after sign off by Bruce Mathieson. He's an old mate of then Woolies chair Gordon Cairns and was serving on the Telstra and Santos boards at the time but had never chaired a major public company.

December 16, 2019: shareholders approve the restructure and chairman Cairns re-interated commitment to responsible pokies in his address at the EGM.

January 30, 2020: Steve Donohue announced as Endeavour CEO and Col Storrie appointed chief operating officer.

February 4, 2020: restructure completes and Woolworths commits to separation later in the year.

February 26, 2020: first half year results with Endeavour Group results reported, starting on page 44.

March 2020: pandemic shut-downs damage Endeavour hotels business, particularly given no JobKeeper claimed or rent relief provided from hotel landlords.

August 27, 2000: Woolworths full year results reveal a 10% jump in sales by Endeavour Drinks from $8.44b to $9.27b, thanks to consumers grogging on during lockdowns.

September 8, 2020: Woolworths announces that Col Storrie will no longer be appointed chief operating officer of Endeavour "due to the delay in the demerger".

February 24, 2021: Woolworths announces that Endeavour demerger now expected to occur in July 2021.

May 10, 2021: demerger booklet unveiled and Woolworths announced 5 new Endeavour Group directors: Bruce Mathieson senior, Col Storrie, Holly Kramer (representing Woolworths), Duncan Makeig, Joe Pollard and Catherine West, in addition to chair Peter Hearl and CEO Steve Donohue. Shane Gannon was announced as CFO. See 43 page demerger presentation and 92 page independent report by Grant Samuel.

June 18, 2021: shareholders overwhelmingly approve demerger at EGM - see chair address.

June 23, 2021: Endeavour releases constitution and 240 page demerger information memorandum.

July 1, 2021: demerger implemented and Endeavour Group commences trading.

July 28, 2021: ATO issues a class ruling splitting the value of Endeavour Group as 14.19% of whatever you paid for your Woolworths shares. Fast forward to October 2023 and Endeavour shares were at $5.25 which is only 12.4% of combined value of $42.32 given Woolworths shares are trading at $37.07.

July 30, 2021: Anne Brennan announced as a new director and audit committee chair, effective October 22 provided regulatory authorities cleared. This will increase the board to 9.

August 26, 2021: Endeavour releases first full year audited accounts - also, see results presentation.

September 20, 2021: Bruce Mathieson reveals he has spent $54m buying another 8.4m shares at an average price of $6.43, thereby becoming the largest shareholder with 15, ahead of Woolworths which remained on 14.6%.

September 21, 2021:
first AGM NoM released for a virtual meeting revealing chairman Peter Hearl and Holly Kramer as the two directors up for election.

September 22, 2021: Endeavour pays maiden 7c fully franked dividend costing $125.3 million given it has 1.791b shares on issue. This delivered Bruce Mathieson $18.3m given he owns 261.5m shares or 14.6%.

October 6, 2021: Australian Super foolishly goes substantial, revealing a 5.34% stake.

October 6, 2021: Endeavour reveals Bruce Mathieson still step down as ALH CEO in December 2021 "to pursue other interests".

October 18, 2021: first Endeavour sustainability report released with barely a mention of pokies reform.

October 20, 2021: Endeavour announces that Anne Brennan has not received regulatory approval, when earlier predicted would have it by October 22.

October 21, 2021: no protest votes at first Endeavour AGM. See text of 19 online questions asked.

November 12, 2021: Endeavour reveals it repaid the entire $429,000 it claimed in Jobkeeper during the pandemic.

February 21, 2022: Mario Volpe announced as new ALH CEO, commencing on March 1.

March 28, 2022: Endeavour pays fully franked interim dividend of 12.5c, costing $223 million and delivering $33.6m to Bruce Mathieson.

April 11, 2022: Catherine West resigns as a director without explanation to focus on other activities and chairman Peter Hearl says he hopes Anne Brennan's appointment is finally approved by the end of June.

May 3, 2022: Alex Freudmann resigns as CEO of Dan Murphy's having been recruited externally into the role back in 2019. Will serve out 6 months notice before returning to the UK.

June 24, 2022:
Endeavour announced Bruce senior would resign as a director on June 26 which they claimed was "the end of the financial year". He'll be replaced by son Bruce junior after regulatory clearance. The same announcement said Anne Brennan would join the board on June 27. Was she waiting for old man Bruce to go? Never explained why it took 12 months to get regulatory approval when Endeavour initially predicted it would take 3 months.

July 1, 2022: Agi Pfeiffer-Smith appointed new CEO of Dan Murphy's. She first joined the group as chief strategy officer in April 2020.

August 23, 2022:
second sustainability report released which still under-cooked pokies reform across its 52 pages.

September 16, 2022: NoM for hybrid AGM on October 18 released with Duncan Makeig, Joanne Pollard and Anne Brennan up for election. No sign of Bruce Junior's nomination.

October 18, 2022: no material protest votes at AGM - see text of 12 Stephen Mayne questions.

November 25, 2022:
Bruce Mathieson junior appointed to board, ending a 5 month Mathieson free period on the board. His initial shareholder statement bizarrely claims he has no interest in his dad's 269m shares.

December 14, 2022: Woolworths sells a 5.5% stake in Endeavour at $6.45, raising $636m and leaving it with 9.1%.

February 10, 2023: former Sportsbet executive Rod van Onselen announced as a new independent director subject to regulatory approval.

February 13, 2000:
Kate Beattie announced as new CFO replacing the retiring Shane Gannon at the end of June.

March 20, 2023: Endeavour pays out 14.3c fully franked interim dividend costing it $256m and delivering $38.5m to Bruce Mathieson.

June 26, 2023: Holly Kramer announces her intention to resign on August 30 and chairman Hearl says she'll be replaced by an independent director without saying she was the Woolworths nominee on the board.

June 29, 2023: Rod van Onselen board appointment becomes effective after 4 month review and hotels CEO Mario Volpe takes personal leave.

July 17, 2023: Endeavour acknowledges Victorian pokies reform which it says are complicated.

July 20, 2023: Endeavour announces it will implement some of Victoria's new gaming rules 10 months early, infuriating Bruce Mathieson senior.

August 30, 2023: Holly Kramer, the Woolworths nominee on the board, resigns with no sign of Woolworths seeking a replacement nominee.

September 20, 2023: Endeavour announces Col Storrie won't seek re-election at the AGM but will not depart the board until December 31.

September 27, 2023: notice of meeting released revealing board is opposing Bill Wavish nomination and may even refuse to put it to the vote if various probity tests are not passed. Wavish, Bruce Mathieson senior and Roger Corbett launch major public attack on the board and management team, naming chairman Peter Hearl and CEO Steve Donohue.

October 31, 2023: hybrid AGM takes place with Mathieson forces vanquished after Bill Wavish only receives 27.75% support. Mathieson representative Ross Blair-Holt threatens to call an EGM to force the chair out. See wrap of the key action.

December 31, 2023: Col Storrie quits the board, leaving Endeavour temporarily with just 5 independent directors.

January 3, 2024: peace deal announced with Peter Hearl agreeing to quit as chair by the end of of April, replaced by new director Ari Mervis. Peter Margin is also added to the board and Bruce Mathieson junior agrees to quit the board by June 30, 2024, after which the warring parties will agree a suitable replacement to represent the Mathieson interests.