Reduction rejection leads MIL to set ... eight seats

April 12, 2018

Three shareholder directors are now being sought for the Murray Irrigation Limited board at an election in May after a proposal to reduce the number was voted down last week.

Three shareholder directors are now being sought for the Murray Irrigation Limited board at an election in May after a proposal to reduce the number was voted down last week.

Murray Irrigation yesterday confirmed it would form an eight member board, with shareholders supporting a proposal to increase the number of independent directors from two to three.

Both proposals were put to an extraordinary general meeting of the company in Deniliquin last Wednesday night.

The interim board wanted the number of shareholder directors reduced from the ‘up to six’ in the existing constitution, to four.

The final member director positions will be retained by interim board members Phil Snowden and Waander van Beek, who were elected to join the board at the company’s November annual general meeting last year.

They were unable to take up their elected positions when the entire board resigned amid ongoing concerns stemming from an independent report which found the board to be dysfunctional.

Mr Snowden and Mr van Beek’s automatic election to the board has been met with controversy however, with former MIL chairman Mark Robertson questioning their intentions.

‘‘Originally Phil Snowden and Waander van Beek were to resign from the board but they are now intending to continue as directors. This should be clarified,’’ Mr Robertson said.

He has also called for a Deloitte report into the previous board to be released to shareholders, “otherwise I believe the company is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past”. Previous calls for release of the report have been rejected.

Ninety shareholders attended the extraordinary general meeting at the Deniliquin RSL Club last week.

Murray Irrigation said many more participated in the vote by proxy, with the 592 valid votes being processed, making it one of the highest rates of poll participation ever recorded by the company.

Mr Robertson, who was on of the shareholder directors to stand down last year, says he believes there is more work to be done to ensure the Murray Irrigation board can support its shareholders effectively into the future.

‘‘I have complete confidence in the CEO, the management and the employees who have made a cultural change in the company that has been for the betterment of shareholders,’’ he said.

‘‘From my point of view we have reformed the company and now we have to reform the board and its overarching governance.

‘‘There are clear recommendations for reform in the Deloitte report, and I believe this needs to be disclosed and discussed with shareholders.’’

Mr Snowden, who is chair of the interim board, said a board comprising five member directors had received strong support, both in shareholder engagement sessions and online surveys held throughout the company’s operational footprint.

He said with nominations for three member director positions closing this Friday, eligible candidates are encouraged to lodge their nomination as a matter of urgency.

The actual ballot to appoint directors will be held from April 27 to May 28 and the three new directors will end their term of appointment at the AGM in November 2019, after which time they are able to stand again.

Current directors Waander Van Beek and Chairman Phil Snowden will complete their four year term at the AGM in November 2021.

“This voting sequence achieves continuity in the short term and then staggers appointments in the longer term,” Mr Snowden said.

The selection of three independent directors and their period of appointment will be finalised by the new board, but all three independent directors will be subject to re-election by members at the 2018 Annual General Meeting.

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