AGMs get heated: insults, eggs, now riots

Not so very long ago the AGM season passed the greater world largely unnoticed. Then in 1995 came the Cedric the pig, the mixed metaphor’d ‘fat cat with his snout in the trough’. We have then seen Hugh and his followers with their chickens at Tesco and this year, Fortis shareholders arming themselves with coins, shoes and voting machines against their board. Now pensioner Gary Kehoe , from Black Rock, Co Dublin has made his mark on the proxy season with a hail of rotten eggs launched at AIB’s chairman, Dermot Gleeson during Wednesday’s tense meeting.

Kehoe had invested €20,000 in shares over a 20 year period with the bank and is now left dependent on his state pension and some rental income from a property to fund his old age. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph Kehoe  said: “I only brought two eggs because I couldn’t afford to buy the half dozen. I didn’t throw my shoes, which is probably a greater insult, because I only have one pair of shoes.” Video coverage from the BBC captures some of the fury expressed at the meeting.

After a tense Q&A session the meeting concluded to overwhelming approve the rescue package which sees the Irish government taking 25% of the ordinary shares and an 8% annual dividend in exchange for a €5bn recapitalisation plan. 

Thankfully the AIB meeting did not descend into the public unrest and violence seen at the Acelor meeting, which was held the day before (12/05/2009). Two hundred officers from the Luxembourg  police, including a reserve of  riot police, were called in to contain protests from French and Belgian steel workers taking a stand against planned cuts and plant closures. According to eye-witness reports, missiles were thrown including iron bars, crash barriers and cobblestones. The police responded with a force which made London’s recent G20 protests seem positively tame using rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Although some journalists were evacuated from the ground floor, the meeting continued uninterrupted.

Where Manifest leads….

Subsequent to the initial posting of this story at lunchtime on May 14th it’s interesting to note that FT Alphaville and The Guardian both picked up this theme here:

FT Alphaville  Thursday 14 May 2009 17:16 BST >>

The Guardian Thursday 14 May 2009 16.24 BST >>

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