Telstra's shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of three resolutions at its annual general meeting on Friday. The only problem? The company's largest shareholder, the Federal Government's Future Fund, issued a protest vote against all three.
On paper, the resolutions appeared relatively minor '” relating to the appointment of a new director to Telstra's board, the adoption of the remuneration report which governs the pay of the telco's leadership, and the adoption of a modified constitution for the company. All three resolutions were passed by shareholder vote of between 75 and 80 percent.
However, in a statement issued Friday, the Future Fund '” which owns about 10 percent of Telstra, worth several billion dollars '” revealed it had voted against the trio of motions, stating that its decision was made based on its voting policy and principles designed to protect and enhance shareholder value.
First, the Future Fund said, it voted against the board appointment because it believed Telstra would benefit from increasing the level of telecommunications experience among its non-executive directors, 'particularly given the very significant changes in the company's operations that will have a lasting impact on shareholder value'.
Just two of Telstra's non-executive directors have direct experience in the telecommunications sector '” Geoffrey Cousins, who was the first chief executive of Optus Vision, the joint venture between Optus and Continental Cablevision which built Optus' HFC cable network, and lawyer and US telecommunications veteran John Zeglis, who let AT&T's Wireless Group in the US for five years from 1999 to 2004.