1. After Soul Pattinson took over Milton in 2021, could chair Alan Rydge comment on whether we explored an all scrip merger with Carlton Investments. Wouldn't that make sense? Also, why do both Soul Pattinson and the Charles Goode Foundation appear in the Carlton Investments top 20 shareholders list? Is there some sort of clubby arrangement between the leadership of the major listed invested companies whereby they invest in each other's vehicle?
Answer: Alan rejected the idea of any club operating, says Carlton questions should be raised at the Carlton AGM and that no merger discussions had been examined over the years - listen to audio of exchange via Twitter.
2. Alan Rydge is now into his 70s and has been chairman of our company since 1978. Like the late Paul Ramsay, Alan is a billionaire who doesn't have any children. Could Alan comment on the leadership transition plans and ownership structure he has in mind for his controlling stake in EVT over the longer term. Is the Ramsay Healthcare situation something we are likely to see at EVT?
Answer: Alan Rydge just said this would be a matter for the board - listen to audio of exchange via Twitter.
3. The chairman owns more than $700 million worth of shares in the company. Did he really need a $10,000 pay rise to $204,000 in the latest year? Why doesn't he work for free like James and Kerry Packer did when serving on public company boards? Also, isn't it more tax effective to receive fully franked dividends rather than paying the top rate of personal income tax?
Answer: Peter Coates, the mining industry veteran, piped up to say he the billionaire chair was great value and was being paid $328,000 prior to COVID. The chair only said that he wasn't Kerry or James Packer. Listen to audio of exchange via Twitter.
4. The auditor Cameron Slapp notes in the key audit matters that property valuations are a major issue. Why do we claim that our property portfolio has appreciated by 20% for the year to $2.3 billion without booking this to profit or disclosing the individual valuations? If even Harvey Norman is now disclosing the specific valuations of its top 20 properties, will we commit to do this in next year's annual report in order to provide maximum transparency to investors? Why release a 30 page property compendium like a property trust without disclosing the valuation data? We need more than pretty pictures. Could the auditor and chair please address this issue?
Answer: the auditor said no more disclosure was required and then someone called "Greg" said there was more detailed financial disclosure at the back of the pretty pictures documents - listen to audio of exchange via Twitter.
5. Since private equity firm BGH took over Village Roadshow, have we noticed any difference in the competitive environment in the cinema business? Also, what is the point of staying in the German cinema market? Has our German adventure added net value to shareholders over the years and have we ever considered selling this business? Given the disruption from streaming services, shouldn't we have exited the cinema business years ago?
Answer: They tried to get out of Germany before COVID and Village JV remains in tact with Village running the Victorian assets and EVT the rest - listen to audio of exchange via Twitter.
6. It is very unusual seeing independent female directors serving for more than 10 years and far more common for male directors to resist retirement. Having served for 12 years since 2011, wouldn't it have made more sense for Valerie Davies to retire as the longer you serve, the more you become a prisoner of your past decisions, undermining your independence. Could the chair and Valerie both comment as to whether this will be her last 3 year term and whether she intends to serve a full term?
Answer: Alan Rydge misconstrued the gender longevity point. History shows the men stay longer. Alan then said longevity makes for better directors, ignoring the concept that you become a prisoner of your mistakes. Valerie talked about the privilege of serving at Alan's pleasure - listen to audio of exchange via Twitter.
7. Given the interesting discussions across a range of topics today, could the chair undertake to make an archived copy of the webcast plus a full transcript of proceedings available on the company's website? The likes of Nine, AGL, ASX, ANZ, Domino's and Lend Lease all produced their 1st AGM transcripts in 2021. Will you follow suit today? This is something IAG has been doing since 2003. Shareholders who did not attend live should not miss out on the benefit of accessing today's interesting debate. Also, many thanks for offering a hybrid AGM and will you keep doing this to maximise retail shareholder participation?
Answer: No promises from chair Rydge. He'll take the suggestion on board - listen to audio of exchange via Twitter.
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