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Australia’s Westpac was voted against at the AGM, the chairman apologized for failing to share

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian looks at his phone as he walks past the logo of Australia's Westpac Banking Corp located outside a branch in central Sydney
FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian looks at his phone as he passes the logo of Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp located outside a branch in central Sydney, Australia, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

December 15, 2021

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Westpac banking group suffered a so-called “first strike” vote against executive pay plans at its annual general meeting. and Chairman John McFarlane apologized “unnecessarily” for the sharp drop in its stock price.

McFarlane, nicknamed “Mack the knife” in the UK for removing CEOs during his time as chairman at Aviva and Barclays, also said Westpac would start planning a succession of its chief executives.

Nearly 30% of shareholders voted against the bank’s salary plan. Under Australian corporate law, another vote by more than 25% next year will trigger a vote on whether to fire the entire board.

“The protest vote is completely respectable and it involves the drop in the share price,” McFarlane said.

Shares of Westpac have fallen about 20% since Nov. 1 when it reported steep declines in profit margins and high costs that led to a cut in analysts’ earnings forecasts.

The slide also forced lenders to offer more attractive terms than planned for the A$3.5 billion share buyback.

“Overall, the results were disappointing, leading to a drop in our market value. I apologize on behalf of the board for the lack of success,” McFarlane said, adding that the bank was working to reduce physical costs.

Westpac’s performance has prompted speculation in the domestic media that Chief Executive Officer Peter King, formerly the bank’s CFO before taking the helm in April 2020, may not last much longer. more in his work.

In response to a question from a shareholder, McFarlane said Westpac would begin planning a CEO succession, but added that King was only recently appointed and that the planning was “probably a little early”.

“We’ll be looking at it this calendar year, but we’ve decided it’s not the right time and something will definitely start next year,” he said.

Westpac has become the smallest of Australia’s Big Four lenders by market value, losing its longtime No. 2 ranking, also due to a slump in market share.

“This is okay,” McFarlane said. “It is not the right position for Westpac. Traditionally, with our business combination, we’ve always expected Westpac to come in at number two. And so it was true that in some ways the company didn’t work. ”

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

https://www.oann.com/australias-westpac-suffers-protest-vote-at-agm-chairman-apologises-for-share-slide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=australias-westpac-suffers-protest-vote-at-agm-chairman-apologises-for-share-slide Australia’s Westpac was voted against at the AGM, the chairman apologized for failing to share

Bobby Allyn

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