Zespri hit with proxy vote misuse allegations - FreshFruitPortal.com

Zespri hit with proxy vote misuse allegations

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Zespri hit with proxy vote misuse allegations

New Zealand kiwifruit exporter Zespri has been accused of allegedly misusing confidential shareholder proxy votes to assist sitting board members, the New Zealand Business Review reported.

The story brought to light claims from Green Growers Association member David Sher that former Zespri chairman Craig Greenlees was given proxy vote tallies in the lead up to an AGM in 2008.

The story reported this action ran in breach of a confidentiality agreement signed with Computershare in 2004.

Former board counsel Murray Denyer confirmed the proxy tallies were given to Greenlees on a 'confidential basis', on the basis of 'serious implications' for shareholders and World Trade Organization (WTO) talks if Zespri were to oust its chairman, the story reported.

In response to the allegations, Independent Kiwifruit Growers Association (IKGA) chairman Marcus Wilkins has called for an independent inquiry to be launched against Zespri so that shareholders can regain confidence in the board.

"Sound democratic processes and robust corporate governance go to the heart of shareholder confidence in any company. Zespri is not a co-operative (as mistakenly  reported in the NBR article). We believe as many as 30% of growers are not shareholders and unknown but significant numbers hold less shares than their production," he said.

"Given the fact that all kiwifruit growers (and not just Zespri shareholders) have to supply the company with monopoly powers conferred on it by the Government, these revelations are even more serious.

The IKGA urged the independent Connor report, which was paid for by Zespri to investigate the allegations, be made public. The association also said New Zealand Kiwigrowers Inc should make all information it had about proxy vote access available to growers, including the content and legal opinion it obtained in relation to the matter.

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Photo: Zespri

Source: www.freshfruitportal.com

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