Billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes won a resounding victory at AGL’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) when all four of his independent director candidates were named to the energy giant’s board.
- All four directors nominated by Grok Ventures have been elected to AGL’s Board of Directors
- The result puts pressure on the current chair and board members, who opposed the election of three of the four
- AGL’s board of directors is also likely to receive a first strike against its compensation report
The AGL’s current chair, Patricia McKenzie, confirmed the election of all four candidates nominated by Mr Cannon-Brookes’ investment firm Grok Ventures, although the current board has urged shareholders to vote for just one – Mark Twidell – while he Kerry Schott, Christine Holman and John Pollaers.
“The board has determined that Mark Twidell, who brings customer frontline experience as well as more than 30 years of experience in the international energy sector, most recently as director (of) energy programs at Tesla, would make a valuable addition to the board Investors said at the meeting.
“After careful consideration, the board determined that while the other candidates nominated by Grok Ventures affiliates are well-respected directors themselves, their skills either already existed on the board or did not match the skills primarily sought through the existing one Board renewal process.”
Shareholders overwhelmingly disagreed with the election of the new directors, sealed by proxies received ahead of today’s AGM, mainly from large institutional shareholders such as super funds and other fund managers.
The final vote count will be published in the market later in the day.
The pressure for an accelerated switch to renewable energies is growing
The election of Mr Cannon-Brookes’ candidates increases pressure on AGL to further accelerate the closure of its coal-fired power plants as it transitions to renewable energy sources.
Ms McKenzie immediately opened the boardroom door to the new directors on a landmark day of change driven by investor concerns about climate risks
“The Board welcomes these new directors to the Board and will work constructively with them in the best interests of shareholders,” she added.
Ms McKenzie argued in her speech that the company is well advanced in its plans to transition to renewable energy.
These include plans to close the Loy Yang coal-fired power plant by the end of fiscal 2035, up to 10 years earlier than the company had previously planned, adding up to 12 GW of new renewable energy by 2036 and “solidifying” capacity at a cost through 2036 of up to $20 billion, with up to 5 GW of it by 2030.
Grok Ventures owns 11.3 percent of AGL and that influence has already replaced a managing director and a chairman.
The added power of four independent directors with mandates to shut down coal plants before 2035 could see the company further accelerate its efforts in this area.
AGL pays report to get first strike
Ms. McKenzie also confirmed that AGL would likely receive a first strike against its compensation report based on the proxies received prior to the meeting, with a significant number of shareholders voting against.
“This is a disappointing result considering that all key proxy advisors recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the report and no material concerns were identified,” the chairman told the assembled shareholders.
“However, we will consider this finding as we review our compensation structure in fiscal ’23 to explore opportunities to further align the structure with company performance and long-term shareholder value.”
Another strike next year would result in shareholders being presented with a motion for a payout by the entire board.
AGL is also continuing its search for a new CEO, having narrowed down a shortlist of local and international candidates expected to be appointed in the coming months.
No doubt the new independent directors will have a significant impact on who that appointment will be and also whether the embattled Ms McKenzie will retain her role as chair.
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