Shareholders force Hanson retreat: Group delays scrip proposals to new meeting

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The Independent Online
HANSON has abandoned its bid to restrict the rights of shareholders at its annual meetings after concerted opposition from investors, writes Heather Connon.

In a statement yesterday, Lord Hanson, chairman, said it was 'not his intention to give the impression that the company was seeking to take Draconian powers over shareholders and to restrict their rights'.

The proposals would have given the chairman the power to: stop shareholders speaking more than once on any subject; interrupt the speaker if the conduct of the meeting was prejudiced; reject any call for a poll that the chairman deemed 'irrelevant, or vexatious to, or inconsistent with, the business of the meeting'.

It would also have prevented director nominations by those with less than 10 per cent of the shares.

The proposals caused a storm of protest, led by Pensions and Investment Research Consultants - which had already garnered the support of 5 per cent of shareholders in a proxy battle, including the Coal Board Pension Funds and Scottish Life.

'As we have no interest in pursuing changes which are not acceptable to shareholders, we have decided not to put the business relating to these matters' to the extraordinary meeting called for next Friday, Hanson said.

The proposals were part of a resolution to allow the group to introduce a scrip alternative for its dividend. That resolution will now be put at a new meeting, to be held in July.

Derek Bonham, chief executive, said the group may try to make some changes to meetings in future, in discussion with shareholders.

Alan MacDougall of PIRC said: 'We are very pleased that the sensible advice from shareholders . . . has got through.'

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