New Zealand Markets open in 7 hrs 40 mins

'Just round one' in Myer fight, Lew warns

 

Solomon Lew has warned Myer's board that "this is just round one" after securing a first "strike" against the troubled department store chain's board in a showdown at its annual general meeting.

Mr Lew, who is Myer's biggest shareholder via the 10.8 per cent held by his Premier Investments - opposed all of Myer's resolutions at its AGM on Friday as a protest against its falling share price and sales, and a continuation of his war with the incumbent board.

A 29 per cent vote against the adoption of Myer's remuneration report easily passed the 25 per cent needed for a strike, setting the stage for a possible second strike and board spill vote at its next AGM.

While Myer's three nominated directors, including chairman Garry Hounsell, won election, there was a substantial move against them with about 30 per cent of shareholders voting against each directors' appointment.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Lew said the votes told Myer's board that their "time is up and change is on the way" and hinted at other options, including an extraordinary general meeting.

"We have a clear message on behalf of fellow Myer shareholders for Mr Hounsell - this is just round one, we are only getting started," he said.

Mr Hounsell said shareholders had given the board a clear mandate to continue with its "New Myer" turnaround strategy by giving him and the other directors up for election, JoAnne Stephenson and Julie Morrison, a clear majority.

"The voting down of the remuneration report has nothing to do with remuneration and the company, it has nothing to do with any individuals on the board - it's the result of our largest shareholder voting against everything," Mr Hounsell told reporters after the AGM.

"I've got to make sure that that doesn't happen again over the next 12 months."

During the AGM, outgoing chairman Paul McClintock claimed Premier, which owns Dotti, Peter Alexander and Just Jeans brands, wanted to install its own directors for its own benefit.

He said it would give Premier control so it could sell more of its brands in Myer's stores and benefit from the chain's attractive rentals in major shopping centres.

Mr Lew dismissed that as nonsense and said he could do that "with one phone call".

"I don't need to have directors on the board to do that," he said.

Mr Lew also said he could have won the day if Myer's other major shareholder, Investors Mutual, run by Anton Tagliaferro, had voted with Premier.

But he said Mr Tagliaferro chose not to because Premier had refused his request to buy his stake in Myer.

Shares in Myer fell early on Friday after the company said there had been no trading improvement in the second quarter of 2017/18, following on from a previously reported 2.8 per cent first quarter sales slide.

However Myer shares recovered to end one cent higher at 72 cents.