Long-standing Cromwell Property chairman Geoff Levy has announced his retirement, a move foreshadowed at last year’s annual general meeting, amid an ongoing battle with its largest investor.
Cromwell’s largest shareholder, Ariadne Australia, with a 23.7 per cent stake in the listed property manager, has called for an extraordinary general meeting to get its chief executive, Dr Gary Weiss, appointed to the Cromwell board.
In what has been a long-running issue, Cromwell security holders and independent proxy advisors rejected Dr Weiss’ attempt for a board seat at Cromwell’s 2019 annual general meeting.
Cromwell chief executive Paul Weightman said the board has initiated a full strategic review to consider options to “maximise value for all Cromwell security holders”.
“The announcement regarding the board changes and the strategic review were intended to be made at Cromwell’s first-half 2019-20 results on February, 27, has been brought forward due to ongoing agitation from substantial security holder Ariadne, including notification that it intends to call a meeting to remove Mr Levy as chair, despite Mr Levy’s clear public statement at the AGM of his intention to retire,” Mr Weightman said.
Ariadne Asset Management Group chief executive John Lim said it has become increasingly evident that this considered action is required to protect Ariadne’s substantial investment in Cromwell, which at the current market price is worth about $750 million.
“The resolution to appoint Dr Weiss as a director was lost by only a very narrow margin, evidencing the support of a significant proportion of Cromwell’s security holders for change at board level,” Mr Lim said.
“Ariande has not taken this decision lightly. We are disappointed in the refusal of the Cromwell board to make the necessary changes to renew and strengthen its governance.”
The Cromwell board has appointed Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Australia Branch and Corrs ChambersWestgarth to assist with the strategic review.
Cromwell securities were down 0.4 per cent to $1.20, while Ariadne shares slipped 0.8 per cent to 60.5?? per security.
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