Marcus Blackmore has promised that he “will not give up” in his efforts to secure George Tambassis, former president of the powerful Pharmacy Guild, into the board of the vitamin giant his father founded, saying his relationship with the president Anne Templeman-Jones is now “toxic.”
Blackmore, the largest shareholder in his eponymous vitamin company, also declared the results of its annual meeting a “wake up call” for the company, after nearly 39 percent of shareholders voted against chairman Anne Templeman-Jones’ election.
Templeman-Jones was elected to the company’s board of directors with the support of 58 percent of shareholders and stated that she will continue in the role. The vote of 38.75 percent against her re-election included the votes of Blackmore, which controls 23 percent of the company’s shares.
Her relatively low level of support, despite backing from the board and support from proxy advisers, was far from the 94 percent plus support for re-election of other directors at the meeting, Wendy Stops, Sharon Warburton, Stephen Roche and Erica Mann.
“If this is not a wake up call to the board, I do not know what it is. Forty percent of shareholders voted against her election, all the other directors got one percent or less. I think they really should sit down and decide whether Anne Templeman-Jones is a suitable and appropriate person to chair Blackmore, ”Mr. Blackmore said in an interview after the annual shareholders’ meeting.
But Mrs Templeman-Jones said she was not going anywhere.
“The election of board members at a general meeting is up to the shareholders. They have the ability to put the directors on the board as they see fit,” she said at the meeting.
“We have stability, we have cohesion, we have delivered value. I am very sure that I have the support of all my co-directors. We as a team will take this business forward if we are re-elected.
“At this point, I will remain chairman. If at any time the current board feels they have another director to chair the board, we will discuss it internally at that time. But at the moment, it is not up for discussion at this general meeting. . “
A spokeswoman for Blackmores added: “the views of all shareholders should be respected”.
“While Mr Blackmore is speaking for two blocs equivalent to 23 per cent and he and Mr Tambassis were running a formidable election campaign, shareholders have made their views known at today’s general meeting and that should be respected,” the spokeswoman said.
Templeman-Jones praised Mr Blackmore’s work in building the company and said “we continue to be focused on building a positive and constructive relationship with Marcus Blackmore, as our largest shareholder, enabling us to recognize his legacy”.
But Mr Blackmore said the couple only spoke through his long-term adviser, former Blackmores chairman Stephen Chapman.
“Anne continued with all sorts of things about discussions with me. She almost never spoke to me and our relationship became so toxic that we actually decided she agreed that we would only speak through Stephen Chapman.
“And then she continues at the board meeting with it all, I just think it’s a shame.”
Ms Templeman-Jones and Mr Blackmore have quarreled over Mr Blackmore’s support for Mr Tambassis, who himself nominated himself for election as director after failing to win the approval of Mrs Templeman-Jones and the rest of the board.
Tambassis, who is also the director of Priceline owner Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, managed to gain the support of more than 44 percent of shareholders, despite the Blackmores board’s strong recommendation against his election.
Blackmore said he would not give up on elevating Tambassis to the board and he would consider making him his formal candidate.
Sir. Blackmore – who built Blackmores from being valued at around $ 1 million when his father Maurice died in the late 1970s, to a global vitamin tumor of $ 1.95 billion – has never asked for a nominee since retiring as director last October.
“I may have to do that. I mean, it’s really obvious. The retailers have voted incredibly for George. Keep in mind that the institutions will inevitably not support anyone that the board does not support, and the institutions own 40 percent of Blackmores.
“So we start behind the eight-ball, and we knew it, and in George’s honor, I think he’s made a great campaign. And he’s paid for it himself.”
Blackmore said the reason he did not make Mr Tambassis his formal candidate was that he wanted him to be independent director.
“I wanted him to be really independent, and I thought that was the best way to go. In hindsight, that was probably not the best way to get started. If I had made him a graduate, he probably would have have received 80 percent of the vote.
“At least we’ll take a trip again. Getting in second place is like getting in second place in a match, it’s not something you want to do too often.”
At one point, during the general meeting, Mrs. Templeman-Jones had an exchange of views with Mr. Tambassis, who was asked by a shareholder about the support for his election to the board of directors of Blackmore’s largest customer, Chemist Warehouse.
As he went to answer the question, Templeman-Jones intervened and said, “I am the chairman of this meeting.”
After saying that the annual shareholders’ meeting was not the place to discuss other companies, she allowed Mr Tambassi to answer the question.
Sir. Blackmore also took a snap at Ms. Templeman-Jones ‘decision to appoint the power of attorney firm Georgeson, which asked and registered shareholders’ voting intentions ahead of the annual general meeting.
“I know one, one direct one shareholder who could not get through, would ask them the question of how much money they spent trying to get, only one nominated from the board.
“A lot of money, I can tell you. The shareholders ‘money. I used my own money. George Tambassis used his own money. They used the shareholders’ money, and I do not think it is fair.”
When a shareholder asked if Georgeson’s appointment was appropriate, Templeman-Jones said it was intended to ensure shareholders were “fully informed”.
“We are aware that the shareholders up to the general meeting may have received a number of telephone calls in relation to their vote. Some of these from the company. We understand that shareholders will also receive calls from representatives of Mr Blackmore and Mr Tambassis, ”she said.
“The company did not disclose shareholder telephone numbers to Mr. Blackmore or Mr. Tambassis. We appreciate that this has been an unusual time for shareholders and in some cases very confusing. The company’s communications programs to ensure shareholders are fully prepared for the vote , especially given them a conflicting message, are being communicated. ”
Templeman-Jones insisted she intended to remain chairman of the company, despite her relatively low backing from shareholders during the vote.
The two-and-a-half-hour annual meeting followed emotional comments from Mr Blackmore, who stepped down from the board last year, and a reiteration from Templeman-Jones that there had been a problem with the company’s code of conduct that she could not disclose. .
“Currently, we as a board are limited by what information we can provide, except that it is related to a difference of opinion regarding Marcus Blackmore’s compliance with the principles of respect in the workplace contained in the Blackmore Code of Conduct,” Templeman-Jones said.
“I very much hope that at the conclusion of this General Assembly today we can jointly draw a line in the sand on these issues and look to the bright future ahead for Blackmores.”
Blackmore shares rose 0.4 percent to $ 97 on Wednesday afternoon compared to a flat broader stock market.