Minority shareholder group fails to get representative elected to board

GERRY Killen’s challenge to the board of One51 yesterday failed to unseat any of the directors.

Mr Killen had nominated himself, Alf Smiddy and Peter Brennan for election to the board, but for technical reasons, shareholders hoping to vote in change at yesterday’s AGM, were denied that opportunity.

Existing chairman Denis Buckley and four other outgoing directors were voted back on to the board. The board had more than 62% of votes in favour of all resolutions before the AGM, including the re-election of directors. After the meeting, both sides expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

Mr Smiddy, former managing director of Beamish & Crawford, who agreed to challenge the board, said after the meeting: “I was delighted with the meeting because the issues of corporate governance, the strategic direction of the group and other matters of serious concerns were fully ventilated.”

At the end of the meeting, the group of shareholders seeking change had succeeded in putting a “huge spotlight” on the governance and other issues facing the company.

In effect, Mr Smiddy said, it was clear from the tone of the meeting and the issues highlighted that the current board will have its hands full over the next 12 months to address the serious concerns that emerged at the AGM.

Mr Killen said for him, the push against Mr Lynch and the executive team was not “personal”.

He also warned that the dissident shareholders were not going to bow out. During the meeting, Mr Lynch in his concluding remarks said he had agreed to a €300,000 salary for Mr Killen and to a place on the board.

Mr Killen said after the meeting: “We will now have to look at our options.” The decision not to allow his three nominations to the board was like a “kangaroo court”.

“We had been given assurances that the vote would go ahead,” but that did not happen.

Mr Killen said his group will consider their legal options and will also consider calling an EGM.

It was clear there was strong support for the minority view with about a third of shareholders in support, he said. He said the group has enough votes to request an EGM.

After the meeting, Mr Lynch played down the level of criticism aimed at the board and his stewardship of the company.

A spokesman for the British co-op, which is one of the biggest shareholders in the group, also expressed concerns at the way the company was being run. “I wouldn’t accept that,” Mr Lynch said.

The issue “foremost in our minds is to create an event where shareholders will be rewarded,” he said.

Mr Lynch also said he was “very happy” with the investment in ferry operator Irish Continental Group.


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