Fear that small shareholders will lose out
WHEN it gets to the stage where battle lines are being drawn at an AGM, it's rarely a good sign for investors based in either camp.
That differences haven't been resolved prior to the annual gathering of One51 shareholders tomorrow at Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel speaks volumes about the depth of feeling on both sides.
The danger is, of course, that it's the relatively small shareholders, who are relying on a healthy One51 share price to perhaps help fund retirement or to provide a financial safety net, who could be the ones to lose out. Already they have seen the value of their shares suffer in an uncertain economic climate, while the current spat has done little to bolster the price.
It is fair to say that the rebel shareholder group headed by Gerry Killen and backed by John Hegarty has valid concerns that need to be addressed -- from strategy to transparency, but all the shareholders should consider whether the best interests of investors lies at the heart of this dissent.
And while company boards may not necessarily like it, it's one of the benefits AGM's bring to to small shareholders, giving them, to some extent, the same type of access to the board often only easily available to larger investors for the rest of the year.
Still, in an age where strong corporate governance and transparency is expected, it shouldn't necessarily have had to come to this. One51 needs to spell out why it used such a complex corporate structure to dish out tax-free payments to executives, even if that structure and process is completely above board. Chairman Denis Buckley will need to provide answers tomorrow.