Shareholders block Wellard exec scheme

Shareholders block Wellard exec scheme


Agribusiness
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AUSTRALIA's biggest livestock exporter Wellard Limited held it's first annual general meeting on Tuesday, since it listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

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AUSTRALIA's biggest livestock exporter Wellard Limited held it's first annual general meeting on Tuesday, since it listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

After a tough year, there was no secret the company's shares had plunged to 20 cents from $1.39 when it floated last December and after a series of profit downgrades.

Following the meeting, Wellard shares lost 0.5c to a record low of 19.5c.

In a poll taken at the meeting but reported to the ASX hours later, shareholders blocked the issue of executive share options to chief executive officer Mauro Balzarini, which was proposed in a Wellard executive share plan.

Shareholders also voted against Wellard's bid to raise cash (10 per cent), via a placement facility.

Fifty-six per cent of votes cast, representing 114 million shares, also voted against Wellard's remuneration report.

Butt Nominees, which holds more than 14pc of company shares, failed in its bid to get a representative on the board.

Its proposal to appoint Tyrone Dennison as a director was rejected by 77pc of shareholders.

Wellard said its earnings were hit by various factors this year, including mechanical problems with its live export carriers, unseasonal rains in the Eastern States, fierce competition from restockers and high cattle prices.

Wellard chairman David Griffiths told stakeholders in Perth, it was clearly evident that the company had endured a challenging start to listed life.

"When it became apparent to Wellard that these factors would cause Wellard to miss its prospectus forecast the company advised the market, and advised it again when our forecast was lowered again when the supply and price situation worsened,'' Mr Griffiths said.

"Repeated profit downgrades damage a company's credibility and everyone is aware of the share price impact those downgrades have caused."

Mr Balzarini said the company still made money and hoped the worst was behind it.

"We call it the perfect storm, so many things went wrong that haven't gone wrong in my whole career,'' he said.

"I think the worst is over, I think China is going to be significant in the second half of this financial year and producers can't restock forever, so cattle will become available."

Mr Griffiths confirmed Wellard had been approached to sell assets.

"People had approached us wanting to buy a ship," he said.

"We have engaged to see if that's what we want to do.

"No decision has been made to sell.''

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