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Nine Entertainment Vs News Corp Sledging War & It’s All Over Harvey Norman

A sledging war has broken out between News Corp and Nine Entertainment over of all things Harvey Norman and the PR stunt laid on by proxy adviser Ownership Matters who have called for the sacking of CEO Katie Page.

Nine Entertainment whose publications such as The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald have become left-wing rags pushing issues for the Greens and climate advocators has taken on the right-wing publication the Australian.

In the AFR this morning the publication wrote ‘Of all the dumb campaigns News Corp has unleashed, its distraught strike on proxy firms, in strident defence of Harvey Norman, takes the cake.

Then then went on to claim that the launching of the initial, hysterical salvo was The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen, who on Friday labelled proxy firm Ownership Matters (and its kind!) “a woke joke” for recommending shareholders vote in favour of corporate pest Stephen Mayne who Ownership Matters nominated for election to the retailer’s board at its November 27 annual meeting next week.

Mayne is set to oppose managing director Katie Page.

In a nutshell, Mayne’s bid is entirely symbolic. Executive chairman Gerry Harvey and his associates control 56.9 per cent of outstanding shares, ensuring Mayne’s latest shot at a public company directorship will be as unsuccessful as his previous 49.

The AFR then went on to claim that because Harvey Norman’s corporate governance is a total garbage fire, Mayne’s candidacy aroused a level of quixotic support from the nation’s proxy advisers – and now gushing opprobrium from Holt Street’s usual suspects.

What’s certain is that Harvey Norman annual meeting next week is shaping up as one of the dirtiest and most theatrical in recent corporate history.

Since the initial salvo another big proxy firm CGI Glass Lewis has jumped on the publicity bandwagon and is now advising major shareholders in the retailer to vote against the reappointment of the company’s chief executive, Katie Page, to its board as chairman Gerry Harvey does what he does best and engages in a war of words against governance advisers and shareholder advocates.

As one Harvey Norman advisor told ChannelNews, “all we need now is the left-wing ABC to get in on the act and we have a real left Vs right shit fight”.

Ownership Matters has argued for a long time that Harvey Norman’s board is the equivalence of a governance nightmare. Other than Norman and Page, his son is also on the board. This year the company nominated its first independent director in 14 years – John Craven.

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