Lord Hanson is forced to apologise

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The Independent Online
LORD HANSON was yesterday forced into an embarrassing public apology over a controversial proposal made by the company to curb shareholders' rights to question the board, writes Neil Thapar.

Lord Hanson, chairman of the industrial conglomerate bearing his name, told a shareholders' meeting in London that the plan had been 'wrong and overdone'.

Addressing the 100-strong meeting, he said: 'I have made a mistake on this and apologise for creating the thought in your minds that we intended to treat you unfairly.'

The proposal, withdrawn yesterday, would have given the chairman powers to block shareholders from speaking more than once on any matter; prevent them from speaking if it was 'prejudicing an orderly conduct' of a meeting; and reject demands for a poll by investors.

However, the plans ran into a storm of protest from institutional and private shareholders, forcing the company to back off. Under close questioning from a shareholder Lord Hanson revealed that the group's six non-executive directors had not examined the 'fine print' of the proposal before approving it.

'Not all the non-executive directors were able to go through the fine print but I am responsible,' he said.