Kermode a no-show as Cabcharge receives its third strike

Where's Reg?
By · 21 Nov 2013
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21 Nov 2013
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Where's Reg?

This was the big question at Cabcharge's annual meeting on Wednesday, with company founder and executive chairman Reg Kermode (pictured) unavailable to witness corporate history as the taxi payments provider was hit with a third consecutive "strike" against its remuneration report.

An unsympathetic mood at the meeting was reflected in the voting, with more than 45 per cent of votes cast against the remuneration report. A 25 per cent vote against the remuneration report registers a first strike against the board. A second consecutive strike triggers a resolution to spill the board. Cabcharge received a second strike last year, but shareholders voted down the resolution to spill the board.

The strike this year means the board faces a potential spill again next year if the report is voted down again.

Cabcharge director Neill Ford stepped into the chairman's role at the meeting and offered apologies on behalf of Mr Kermode, saying the chairman was "disappointed" he was unable to attend. No further explanation was offered. "He's just not here," a company spokeswoman said.

It has been another tough year for Cabcharge with its shares plunging in May when the Victorian government said it would halve the 10 per cent fee Cabcharge receives for processing payments, which potentially sets a national precedent.

Cabcharge has lowered its dividend as a precautionary step, paying total dividends of 30¢ a share for the 2013 financial year, from 35¢ in the previous year.

"We remain cautiously confident about the prospects for our growth in the longer term based on our technology, product innovation and diversification," Mr Ford told investors.

The company tried to soothe shareholder concerns over some of its unusual corporate practices, promising it will split the role of chief executive and chairman when Mr Kermode eventually steps down.

The company is also expected to use that opportunity to introduce long-term incentives to the top executive role.

After the meeting Moelis & Co analyst Adam Michell maintained his sell recommendation on the company with a $3 price target, saying the fact it is trading on a multiple of seven times this year's earnings and has a dividend yield of 7.2 per cent is a "misleading indicator of value".

The shares, which were more than $14 in 2007, closed 4¢ higher at $3.81.
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