6 questions asked at 2023 ANZ AGM

December 29, 2023

Below is a summary of the written questions lodged at the 2023 ANZ hybrid AGM held in Brisbane on December 21, along with a summary of the answers and some video grabs via Twitter. The proxies were held back until the end but there were no protest votes. See full transcript.

Q1. Under the ANZ constitution, external nominations for the board must be lodged at least 45 business days before the AGM. With a rushed pre-Christmas AGM on December 21, the latest nomination date this year was October 19. However, ANZ didn't release its full year results until November 13, the same day it released the notice of meeting for the AGM. Could we please return to having an AGM in late January or February in future so that board nominations close after you've told shareholders about your performance for the year. Why the rush?

Answer: the chair explained the timing of the AGM but effectively dismissed the governance concern saying that a board candidate would run on a range of reasons, not just the results. Watch video of exchange via Twitter.

Q2. ANZ borrowed $20 billion from the Reserve Bank through its Term Finance Facility on a 3 year deal at a fixed rate of 0.1%, which is repayable on June 30, 2024. Is it out intention to wait until the end of June to repay that facility, given than a $20 billion loan at the current official RBA rate of 4.35% would cost $870 million a year in interest. We will only pay $60 million in total interest over the 3 year term of the loan. Whilst at some levels, this is a massive government subsidy, does the CEO agree that effectively it offsets the super tax regime that was imposed on Australia's 5 biggest banks by the Morrison government. How much is that super tax currently costing ANZ shareholders and given the Federal budget is in rude health, should that super tax be abolished?

Answer: Shane Elliott would love Jim Chalmers to abolish the bank levy which is now costing ANZ $400m a year. Also said ANZ is paying back the $20b cheap RBA loan early. Watch video of exchange via Twitter.

Q3. It is always helpful for investors to have access to some exit perspectives from retiring independent directors. In their final contributions as ANZ directors could Ilana Atlas and John Macfarlane please comment on what they regard as the best decisions ANZ made during their time on the board and do they have any regrets?

Answer: Not sure why the ANZ question wrangler grouped together the LTI record question with a request for exit reflections from retiring directors, but Ilana Atlas took it seriously and gave a good response. Watch video of exchange via Twitter. John Macfarlane also said the Royal Commission was a major event, plus he backed in Shayne Elliott. Watch video of his comments via Twitter.

Q4. Could the CEO summarise his past LTI grants as to whether they have vested or lapsed. Also, has he ever sold any ordinary shares in the company or bought any on market without relying on an incentive scheme to build his equity position in the company? Please don't say look it up in the annual report and through ASX announcements. It's complicated and the CEO could factually summarise the situation in 60 seconds. The Westpac CEO Peter King answered this question last week saying that none of his LTIs had vested for 8 years. What has been Shane's lived experience?

Answer: ANZ CEO Shane Elliott has never bought or sold a share in the bank. His entire holding is from STI and LTI grants and most of the LTI grants in recent years have lapsed. Watch video via Twitter of this good factual and interesting answer.

Q5. Our chair is also the long-term chair of Optus, yet when the recent media and political storm broke out over the Optus outage, it was the Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin who copped all the heat with the chair barely mentioned, even though he was a former Optus CEO himself. In light of this lack of scrutiny and recent problems at Optus, does Paul O'Sullivan believe that he remains a suitable chair for ANZ and why did he get to keep his job at Optus when the CEO was forced out? Was this issue discussed inside the ANZ boardroom?

Answer: Surprised this one was read out in full and the chair gave a detailed answer saying it was discussed within the ANZ board. Watch video of exchange via Twitter.

Q6. Did any of the 5 main proxy advisers - ACSI, Ownership Matters, Glass Lewis, ISS and ASA - recommend a vote against any of today's resolutions? If so, what reasons did they give and will you disclose the proxy votes now before the debate finishes so shareholders can ask questions about the reasons? Best practice is now to disclose the proxy position to the ASX along with the formal addresses to offer more timely disclosure to the market? The likes of Origin Energy, NAB, Carsales, Viva Energy, Webjet, Xero, Myer, Brambles and JB Hi Fi all do this. Will you adopt this practice at next year's AGM?

Answer: the italicised element wasn't asked and the chair said all recommendations were in favour. Watch this video of proxies being belatedly disclosed at the end of the meeting. There were no protest votes.

In other highlights from the meeting:

ANZ chair Paul O'Sullivan failed to make a coherent argument as to why online voting has been banned this year. Small numbers is no excuse. It's growing. We want to watch the debate and then make a voting decision live and directly, not vote 48 hours before the meeting.

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott got quite animated explaining why it failed to land a deal with Aussie Post. He said the $25m pay to play fee should be lower than what CBA pays because ANZ is closer to Bendigo than CBA in terms of size. Worth a watch via Twitter.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John made his AGM debut in Brisbane. Did well on both climate and disability although a shame the webcast doesn't provide vision of questioners. Here are his final observations and the chair's detailed response on ANZ's disability hiring record.

ANZ CEO Shane Elliott reckons the bank's 87% positive engagement rating from staff is best in the world. The chair Paul O'Sullivan was earlier very chipper about a recent 91% vote in a favour of its latest enterprise agreement. Watch video via Twitter.

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott sounded quite passionate on climate after getting some stick for not debanking gas and coal faster. Watch video via Twitter.