Queenstown tourism giant Skyline Enterprises is considering legal action against a shareholder after comments published by the Otago Daily Times on Saturday.
Cath Gilmour, of Queenstown, admits she inadvertently made an error when she told the ODT that shareholders had voted four-to-one in favour of the company returning the $7.9 million wage subsidy it took last year.
In fact, before the company’s annual meeting on Friday, shareholders voted four-to-one against a motion, tabled by Gilmour and fellow shareholder John Hilhorst last month, which urged the company to repay the money.
Skyline Enterprises chairwoman Jan Hunt said she was “appalled” by the comments, which had been incorrect in other respects.
“We are taking legal advice with a view to taking proceedings going forward , for both brand and reputational damage.
“We do not take this lightly.”
Gilmour was wrong to say directors had decided to change the method of voting on the motion from one vote per shareholder to a poll vote, in which the number of votes matched the shares an individual held.
The poll vote was legally required by share registry provider, Computershare, because the meeting was held by video conference, she said.
“You can’t have a show of hands in a Zoom meeting – it just doesn’t work.
“So it’s not illegal, and as far as the polling goes, it made no difference to the outcome.”
Gilmour and Hilhorst should have been aware of that before the meeting, Hunt said.
“Everyone was aware of this, and we went through in detail to make sure we had the process 100% correct.”
Under the poll voting method, 95.4% of the votes were cast in opposition to the resolution.
Gilmour and Hilhorst tabled their motion last month, saying it was a “moral question” for the company, given it had recorded a $56.7 million profit after tax in the last financial year.
Gilmour said yesterday it would be “inappropriate” for her to comment further, other than to say she emailed the ODT as soon as she realised her mistake, and copied Hunt into the email.
Hunt said returning the wage subsidy or not was “not a moral issue”.
“My role, and the board’s role, is for all our shareholders, and our shareholders have voted 95.4% to say you need to keep the wage subsidy.”
The company’s “true profit” in the last financial year was $6.9 million, and most of the reported profit arose from property revaluations.
Shareholders had not received a dividend for the past two years, she said.
“We were legally able to take, and needed to take, the wage subsidy.”
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