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Myer AGM, Spark Fest Tipped

Today is D Day for the Myer board with their AGM set to be a showdown between directors and agitators.

Myer’s largest shareholder, retail billionaire Solomon Lew has handed an olive branch to the department store’s chief executive John King, comparing him favourably to a decent jockey riding a poorly trained horse.

But that is the best that Myer executives are going to get from Lew who is a major Myer shareholder who believes the Company is being poorly run.

Mr Lew, who’s listed retail group Premier Investments owns 11 per cent of Myer, said on Thursday there had been a rush of support from other Myer investors in his efforts to roll the department store’s board at its annual general meeting on Friday.

According to insider Lew is set to deliver a second “strike” overpay at today’s AGM.

However, the besieged retailer is likely to avoid a spill of their board, despite newly appointed director Lyndsey Cattermole being targeted for her lack of retail experience.

According to the Financial Review, The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is understood to be examining two letters from Mr Lew to Myer shareholders which the board claim contained “erroneous, misleading or deceptive” statements.

Solomon Lew

Speaking after the Premier Investments AGM on Thursday, Mr Lew said his ire was firmly directed at the “current clueless board” who he likened to a horse trainer who “wouldn’t know one end of a horse from the other”.

He confirmed he had recently met with the Myer CEO John King – who he likened to a good jockey – and said Premier would support the current management team and the grant of long-term performance options to Mr King, despite leading a revolt against the board.

Myer was recently forced into a trading halt to reveal their sales figures for the first quarter had plunged by 4.8 per cent after they claimed information was leaked to Media organisations was “draft and incomplete financial information”.

The Myer board are believed to have taken exception to Mr Lew’s letters in which he claimed the sales numbers were the bad results “the Myer board tried to hide from you”.

Myer’s second and third largest investors – Investors Mutual and Wilson Asset Management – have to date backed the board.

While Premier has been lobbying shareholders to kick out Myer’s board, Mr Lew on Thursday said it would vote in favour of a motion to issue Myer shares to its new CEO Mr King, who took the top job in June.

“I have spent time in recent weeks with Myer CEO John King and his chief lieutenant Alan Winstanley, and we have had very productive and positive discussions,” Mr Lew said following Premier’s own AGM in Melbourne.

“I sincerely want them to succeed in turning Myer around – after all, Premier has the most to lose if they don’t.”

He said Myer was akin to a racehorse, being ridden by a “decent” jockey but trained by the “failed Myer board”.

“We need to change trainers… but none of that is John King’s fault,” he said.

Premier owns the brands Peter Alexander, Smiggle, and Just Jeans, while the Lew family has interests in brands including Seed, FCUK and Nine West.

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