Stamford Land denies accusations from shareholder over AGM

Singapore two-dollar bills

Stamford Land issued a letter to deny allegations about its annual general meeting, which were raised by a shareholder in a Facebook post and were later republished as a letter to the editor of the Business Times, it said in a filing to SGX after the market close on Friday.

The Facebook post was published on 27 July, while the letter to the Business Times’ editor was published on 31 July, and was titled “Stamford Land board’s high-handed conduct at AGM leaves bitter taste,” it noted.

“We would like to assure shareholders that whatever had been stated in the Facebook Post and BT Letter does not factually represent what had transpired at the 2018 AGM,” the company said.

In its filing on Friday, Stamford Land said it was wrongly accused of having poor shareholder communications by restricting shareholder questions to one each, of having asked a shareholder at the AGM to quench his thirst in the toilet and of having poor corporate governance by paying the Executive Chairman and the CEO remuneration at the expense of not paying more dividends.

Stamford Land denied there were any restrictions on the number of questions a shareholder could ask at the AGM.

“Shareholders were requested to ask one question per turn. When all shareholders had completed their initial question, the board will then return to the shareholders who had more than one question to raise,” it said in the filing.

The Facebook post from shareholder Mano Sabnani had also noted that “ushers retained the microphones and demanded to see our voting slips before allowing anyone access to the microphones.”

In response, Stamford Land noted in its filing on Friday that the right to ask questions was granted to shareholders and not persons who  might trespass the AGMs; it said it implemented those measures to prevent unauthorized access.

Shenton Wire has contacted Mano Sabnani for comment via Facebook and LinkedIn messages which were sent outside of office hours.

Dividends vs executive pay

In response to the Facebook post’s criticism of the remuneration of the executive chairman, the CEO and the deputy executive chairman, as well as the size of the dividend payout, Stamford Land said considerations over directors’ remuneration and the declaration of dividends were independent of each other.

“As explained at the 2018 AGM, the company took into account the potential earnings forecast of the company, the sustainability of the current dividend over the course of the next few years and the resources required for Stamford to undertake any projects for the coming years, when declaring its dividends,” the filing said.

It added that it also explained at the meeting that the remuneration of the executive chairman and the CEO had risen in line with a formula adopted by the board on the advice of an independent human resources consultant, which was then reviewed by the independent remuneration committee of the board.

Stamford Land also took issue with the Facebook post’s claim that the company “has three CEOs, effectively,” and reiterated the separate job duties of the executive chairman, the deputy executive chairman and the CEO.

“The executive chairman, deputy executive chairman and the CEO collectively devoted 112 years building up the group to what it is today. Each of their contribution is important for the growth and development of the company. The company has not suffered any losses ever
under their management,” Stamford Land said.

Quenched thirst?

Stamford Land also denied that the board or management had told any shareholder at the AGM to quench their thirst in the toilet.

In the Facebook post, shareholder Mano Sabnani had claimed, “The company did not have the courtesy to even offer drinking water to minority shareholders, while the board members were seen regularly sipping water from their bottles high up on the stage. I was told there was water in the toilet and I could quench my thirst there.”

This article was originally published on Sunday, 2 September 2018 at 23:22 P.M. SGT; it has since been updated. 

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