Hardy annual irritants at sparsely attended AGM
Battle fatigue may have played a part in reducing the number of shareholders AIB’s board had to face in Ballsbridge
Shareholder Billy McGuire speaking at the AIB AGM. He questioned where AIB had received its licence and why it was “fraudulently” using the “sovereign seal of Éire”.
It might have been the glorious sunshine outside or a certain battle fatigue five years into the financial crisis. Or perhaps it was the fact that the board no longer breaks bread with shareholders after its annual meeting.
Whatever the reason, AIB’s AGM in Ballsbridge was sparsely populated yesterday. Not that it made any difference to the running time. Chairman David Hodgkinson finally called time on the meeting three hours and two minutes after he called it to order.
During that time shareholder Niall Murphy, an annual irritant to the board at AIB AGMs, had asked his fellow investors to support his motion to remove all the directors.
He zoned in on Mr Hodgkinson in particular, trying to embarrass him in relation to his involvement with HSBC.
Mr Somers treated the shareholders to a breezy appraisal of his resumé.
He concluded by noting that at the time of his departure from the National Treasury Management Agency in late 2009 it “was left standing while all the [financial] institutions around it fell down”.
The meeting was frequently interrupted by Billy McGuire of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who questioned where AIB had received its licence and why it was “fraudulently” using the “sovereign seal of Éire”. Mr Hodgkinson assured the meeting that AIB was properly licensed and that he had legal advice that contradicted Mr McGuire’s claims.
Dermot Carroll asked how many of the 30 former AIB executives had agreed to the bank’s request that they hand back some of their pension.
Mr Hodgkinson said the details were “confidential” and wouldn’t budge from this answer in spite of being pressed repeatedly.
Independent News & Media
Another shareholder wanted the details of AIB’s involvement in the financial restructuring of Independent News & Media, where a syndicate of banks is wiping €138 million from its loans. Why not let it go bust or make “non-resident billionaires” put money into it, he asked. This was a reference to Denis O’Brien, INM’s biggest shareholder.
Mr Hodgkinson said the restructuring was in the “collective best interests of all parties but particularly the banks”.
The same shareholder later asked what would happen if the whole board was removed, as there would be no continuity of management.
“I agree. We would have a genuine continuity issue,” Mr Hodgkinson said. One wag chimed in with “we could call it the Continuity AIB”.
Thankfully, they were well out of earshot of our friend from the IRB.