Thursday, April 25, 2024

Agria fires back in PGG Wrightson boardroom

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Fight breaks out ahead of interim results announcement.
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A fight has broken out in the PGG Wrightson boardroom ahead of its interim results announcement on February 27.

Major shareholder Agria Corporation of Singapore has requested a special shareholders meeting to vote on seven resolutions – the removal of three current directors and the appointment of four Agria nominees.

It wants that meeting on February 22 or the first available date thereafter and, judging by communications between Agria and the PGW board, it is in no mood to compromise.

In an announcement to the NZX exchange, PGW said the board sought a more constructive board transition, but Agria said it would not withdraw the special meeting request notice.

The meeting will go ahead as soon as it can be arranged under NZX regulations.

The independent directors Agria wants replaced are deputy chair Sarah Brown, Garry Moore and Charlotte Severne.

The four nominees are former director and chair Alan Lai, Wilson Liu, Van Crawley and Traci Houpapa.

The only two current directors not singled out by Agria are acting chair U Kean Seng, also head of corporate and legal affairs for Agria, and former Gisborne mayor Meng Foon.

Should it succeed, 44% shareholder Agria would go from one director to five and Foon would remain the sole independent.

U Sean Keng has been a director since 2012 and acting chair since July 2023 when former chair Lee Joo Hai stood down.

Brown has been on the board since 2019 and deputy chair since July 2023.

Severne was appointed in 2021 and Foon and Moore in 2022.

It appears Agria has been under-represented on the small board for at least nine months and that Lai’s patience has run out.

But Lai and Lee have both been in trouble with securities commissions elsewhere in the 15 years since Agria first took a capital stake in PGG Wrightson and grew that into a majority shareholding.

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