Former Energy Security Board Chair Kerry Schott, former Tesla Energy Director Mark Twidell, Chancellor John Pollaers of Swinburne University and CSR Director Christine Holman all returned with a majority vote as independent directors, with Twidell being the only one to approve the approval of the got advice.
Shareholders also gave the company a “first strike” warning vote against the company’s remuneration report.
It’s Cannon-Brookes’ latest win since his campaign to accelerate AGL’s shift to renewables began in February with an initial $5 billion takeover bid for Australia’s largest carbon emitter.
After two takeover offers were turned down, Cannon-Brookes spent $650 million to acquire an 11% stake in AGL through Grok Ventures, then embarked on an ultimately successful campaign against AGL’s demerger plan.
As a result, AGL chairman Peter Botten and CEO Graeme Hunt stepped down, along with a number of other directors, when the split was terminated.
The current board change is also clouding the ongoing tenure of new chair Patricia McKenzie, who is also chair of NSW Ports and the Sydney Desalination Plant Group.
The company had opposed the appointments of Schott, Pollares and Holman on the grounds that they lacked the “additional experience and skills necessary to ensure the successful implementation of the board’s strategy”.
Commenting on today’s vote, McKenzie said: “The board of directors welcomes these new directors to the board and will work constructively with them in the interest of shareholders”.
Brynn O’Brien, executive director of the Australasian Center for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), said today’s vote has made history with shareholders sending a clear signal to Australian publicly traded companies about managing climate risks.
“This is both a win for shareholders and a damning indictment of those who have spent years destroying shareholder value by postponing the inevitable in the face of an escalating energy transition. It is vital that lessons are learned from AGL’s colossal waste of time and shareholder funds,” he said.
“The boards of other high-emitting companies should take note of today’s outcome: Climate risk management is under increasing pressure and those who remain flat in the face of rapidly changing market dynamics will be held accountable.”
O’Brien’s assessment of the new chair was damning, saying that McKenzie, a three-year AGL director, “has taken the wrong turn” since her appointment.
“Patricia McKenzie must be held accountable for her poor judgment since she took on the role of Chair. From her adversarial relationship with AGL’s largest shareholder to her dismissive attitude to the skills and expertise of independent director candidates that shareholders have now outright endorsed,” he said.
“The first strike that AGL received on compensation also shows that the chairman is misinterpreting the expectations of major shareholders.
The next immediate challenge facing AGL before it struggles with its energy transition is finding a new CEO to replace Hunt.