All fun and games at Sanlam AGM, and nobody lost an eye

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All fun and games at Sanlam AGM, and nobody lost an eye

Interesting notions of public transparency are aired, and chairperson rules out tardy shareholders

Ann Crotty

This week’s Sanlam annual general meeting turned out to be an extremely informative occasion. There was shareholder activist Theo Botha debating the definition of “to make public” with Robert Roux, head of Sanlam Investment Managers.Roux’s comment about only needing to be transparent “to the right people” was worth the trip to Bellville.Later, just as shareholders thought all the action was over and chairperson Johan van Zyl was on track to a smooth completion of the voting, there was more activity.
Someone rushed onto the stage and whispered an urgent message to CEO Ian Kirk who walked over to the podium and whispered the same message to Van Zyl who had just wrapped up ordinary resolution 7.1. Van Zyl shared the message with the audience.It seems someone holding 7.7 million shares had decided at the last minute to vote in support of resolution 7.2, the non-binding advisory vote on the remuneration implementation report. In a company with over two billion shares not a lot hangs on the voting of 7.7 million of them. Unless you happen to be the owner/manager of those shares and have made an effort to get your vote to the company in time. Or you are a legal academic and believe section 58 of the Companies Act allows a vote to be lodged right up to the time the resolution is read out.
Van Zyl, who seemed a little irritated by the tardiness, was having none of it. The 7.7 million votes were relegated to the “abstain” bin. But that wasn’t the end of it. Full marks to Sanlam’s company secretary and the scrutineers for trying to persuade Van Zyl to review this decision before the meeting ended. No chance. He was exercising his discretion.
Later Van Zyl may have thought how much better things would now be if the “enforcers” at Steinhoff, from whose board he recently resigned, had been such sticklers.

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