Saturday 24 March 2018

Glanbia shareholders protest against re-election of six board members

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

GLANBIA was the latest company to face shareholder discontent yesterday, after a mini revolt against the re-election of a number of board members, including chairman Liam Herlihy.

Close to 15pc of investors voted against the reappointment of Mr Herlihy as well as directors Henry Corbally, Patrick Gleeson, Martin Keane and Matthew Merrick. Just over 12pc were against Jerry Liston's re-election.

Managing director John Moloney attributed the votes to being a protest vote against the size of Glanbia co-op's board representation -- it has 14 directors on the PLC board -- and also a criticism of length of time served on the board.

All six men are either co-op appointees or have served more than nine years on the board -- widely considered the maximum length of service under corporate governance best practice.

"I suppose one would expect it is a reflection of tenure on the board and reflection by institutional investors about the way the board is structured, but we have a custom in practice of the co-op appointing 14 directors but the proxy advisers tend to advise voting against people more than nine years on a board as well," Mr Moloney said.

"(The structure of the board) is not an issue for me as MD, I'm here to execute the strategy."


The votes came a week after nearly 30pc of shareholders voted against Kerry Group chairman Denis Buckley's re-election.

At the meeting, Mr Moloney confirmed the company will make a final decision on how it will deal with the removal of EU milk quotas by the end of next month, and added that a number of avenues were still being looked at.

Glanbia's plans to increase milk-processing facilities have been hit by disagreements at board level about how the company should proceed, while a proposed partnership with Dairygold floundered because of concerns about Glanbia's PLC business model versus Dairygold's co-op model.

In a management statement, Glanbia stuck to its earnings guidance for the year ahead despite what it described as a "more challenging operating environment this year".

For the first three months of the year revenue rose 1.9pc on the same period in 2011 but volumes slid 1.5pc as declines in dairy ingredients and agribusiness outweighed growth in global nutritionals sector.

Guidance for the year was unchanged at 5pc to 7pc growth in earnings per share.

Davy Stockbrokers' Aiden O'Donnell said: "Maintaining guidance in the context of a more variable and weaker pricing environment for commodity dairy products this year is a tribute to the robustness of nutritionals."

A number of former employees picketed outside the meeting in protest at what they claim is a breach of contract by Glanbia over pension rights the group say is owed to them.

Shares closed almost unchanged at €5.65 in Dublin.

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