Harvey Norman board gets first strike at AGM

HarveyNorman-exteriorShareholders delivered a first strike against the board at Harvey Norman’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, voting down the business’s proposed remuneration report and raising the potential of a board spill at next year’s meeting.

In a letter sent to Harvey Norman earlier this week, the Australian Shareholders Association stated its intent to vote undirected proxies against the remuneration report, as the policy didn’t align with the association’s guidelines for good practice.

The association also questioned Harvey Norman’s strategy and risk assessment capabilities in regard to investments made outside its core retail competency, and questioned the diversity of its board members.

The letter proved consequential, with more than half of Harvey Norman shareholders ultimately voting against the resolution to adopt the report – well ahead of the 25 per cent necessary to facilitate a first strike.

Executive chairman Gerry Harvey later described the ASA as “nobodies”, which “don’t represent anyone”, to The Australian.

“They represent less than 1 per cent of shares in Harvey Norman. They came to the meeting and try to be disruptive, they are trying to make a name for themselves,” Harvey said.

The billionaire also reportedly told an AFR reporter to “piss off” when asked about the first strike and the strong sales figures posted earlier in the day after the AGM.

The retailer reported aggregated sales of AU$2.88 billion ($3.07 billion) in the period from July 1 through November 23, 2018, a 2.7 per cent increase on the same period the year prior.

Within these aggregated sales, Australian franchisees saw sales decrease by 1.3 per cent over the period, while sales in Malaysia jumped by 65.4 per cent compared to last year.

This story originally appeared on sister-site Inside Retail Australia.

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