Finance Finance News Packer uses his Crown votes to save directors’ pay from protest vote

Packer uses his Crown votes to save directors’ pay from protest vote

Crown Casino is facing a barrage of questions from shareholders at Thursday's annual general meeting over its corporate governance failures. Photo: ABC News
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Crown Resorts has received a ‘first strike’ against its remuneration report, with more than 34 per cent of shareholders voting against the resolution.

A first strike occurs when a company’s remuneration report, which outlines each director’s individual salary and bonus, receives a ‘no’ vote of 25 per cent or more by shareholders at its annual general meeting.

As expected, Crown’s directors faced major protest votes from its shareholders but they were saved by votes from billionaire major shareholder James Packer, who has a 36 per cent shareholding.

Chairwoman Helen Coonan said if the remuneration report fails again at next year’s meeting it could trigger a spill of all board positions.

Director John Horvath was re-elected — but acknowledged he would not have survived without the supportive votes of Mr Packer — and therefore said he would retire.

Director Jane Halton is in the same position but has said she will stay despite initially considering stepping down.

Shareholder discontent has heightened as the company faces a probe by financial regulator AUSTRAC over potential breaches of Australia’s anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws at its flagship Melbourne casino.

At Thursday’s annual general meeting, Ms Coonan apologised to shareholders for the company’s “governance and risk management failings”.

Many of these failings have been dissected in recent weeks at the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into Crown, which is due to hand down its findings in February.

Let me say clearly that I unreservedly apologise for these failings,” Ms Coonan said.