Legislative amendments have been fast-tracked into parliament to
fix a drafting error relating to the voting of undirected proxies
at AGMs, which have been keenly expected in the context of the new
"two-strikes" rule on executive remuneration. Will the
fix make any difference to the upcoming November AGM season? Andrew
Hay examines the change and what effect it will have.
Today BRR Media speaks with Andrew Hay; he's a Partner in
the Corporate Advisory team at Clayton Utz in Brisbane. Welcome
back to BRR Media Andrew.
Thanks very much David.
Andrew, the rules governing shareholder voting on
executives' pay are being fine-tuned with amendments going into
Parliament late last month.
That's correct David. The two strike rule which was
introduced last year inadvertently the Government included a
provision in those rules which prevented a Chair from voting
undirected proxies on the remuneration report and the amending Act
that has been introduced to Parliament seeks to redress that
Andrew, given the perceived conflict of interest in key
management personnel such as the Chair of AGM voting on these
matters, there is a requirement for shareholders to provide their
informed consent. How will that work in practical terms?
Well I think in relation to the Chair, first of all for a lot of
the ASX listed companies the Chair is supposedly an independent
person to start with, and that's actually brought forward or
brought out in the ASX Corporate Governance Rules. For those that
don't have an independent Chair usually it is the case that a
board will indicate in their Notice of Meeting or Explanatory
Memorandum, how the board intends to vote on a particular matter,
if they are given undirected proxies. And then separately from that
if the Chair thinks that they're conflicted in some way for
that particular resolution they could in fact step aside as the
Chair for that particular resolution and put someone else in place.
Although I don't think that that would be a situation that
would be widely taken by many companies.
Andrew, this fix has been described as many as correcting a
drafting error, in fact you were saying earlier it's an
inadvertent error. Was it really a mistake in the wording or was
this amendment really actually trying to respond to stakeholder
No I truly do believe David that it was an inadvertent error on
the drafting part of the Government. Usually corporate
governance-wise at least the Chair is that person that's
considered to be the right person to vote undirected proxies. This
amendment just seeks to clarify that.
And just coming up to the second AGM season under the new two
strikes rule, do you have a sense of how this change might affect
the number of remuneration of votes falling below that critical 25%
I think it will make a slight difference, but I don't think
it's going to make a substantial difference. The reason I say
that, and obviously you need to look at the percentages and votes
cast from last year's AGM season, but my sense of it is that
most companies were conscious about this error and put in place
systems or put in place actions that would counter that drafting
error, and therefore that's why I say it's probably only a
slight difference this year because obviously the legislation will
make it easier for a Chair to vote undirected proxies.
And time's certainly flying towards the November season. Are
you expecting the Bill in the meantime to be passed as is and
what's the likely timing do you think?
Look the Government has put in place measures to try and get
this amendment through as quickly as possible. Previously it was
tacked on to the end of a Consumer Credit Bill, but now it's
its own separate piece of legislation and I understand that the
Government is looking to pass that legislation by the end of June,
which will hopefully give everyone enough time for the latest AGM
Well certainly I guess a keenly awaited amendment, and we'll
see how it comes through when it does. But thank you again for your
time today Andrew.
Thanks very much David.
That was Andrew Hay, a Partner in the Corporate Advisory team
with Clayton Utz in Brisbane.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
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