Xstrata shareholders hit the ballots

It’s lucky for Xstrata that it’s listed in the UK rather than France otherwise their EGM results announcement would have a different story to tell about the level of shareholder unhappiness at yesterday’s meeting to approve the Glencore deal. Put another way, shareholders didn’t lend the overwhelming support to Xstrata’s proposals that the company would like you to think.

Looking at the company’s press release the casual reader would have seen a level of support of 80% for the Columbian coal proposal. Digging deeper however, only 359, 779, 678 were cast on the resolution in total;  237,434,425  in favour and 122,345,253 were dissenters. That amounts to a total dissent of 34%  with almost half of those dissenting votes (48%) firmly against, the remainder being positive Abstain votes.

Abstain votes (or witheld votes as some companies call them) are treated differently around the world; in France and Italy, for example, votes that are positively abstained are added to the against votes as a measure of dissent against the proposal.

There are mixed views amongst investors about the use and efficiency of the ‘Yellow Card’  on the basis that UK companies are least are not legally bound to acknowledge or act on them.  At the same time, not all investors are comfortable with ‘gong nuclear’ with an outright against vote for fear of upsetting the relationship with the company.

We should expect to see more scrutiny of shareholder dissent this coming season.

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