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Two recent failed attempts by minority shareholders to use an ostensibly powerful new shareholder right to table resolutions at annual general meetings suggest the "new" Companies Act 2008 is not as progressive as some legal experts have claimed. Separate legal teams acting for Sasol and Trencor used precisely the same language to dismiss shareholder attempts to table resolutions at their upcoming AGMs. At the end of June, Sasol informed shareholder activist Theo Botha and the Raith Foundation, a nonprofit campaigning for social justice issues in SA, that their bid, launched in April, to submit a resolution for consideration at the AGM to be held in November was denied. Sasol said it received legal opinion that "the matters included within the draft resolution are within the authority of the board and management and do not constitute matters that shareholders are entitled to exercise voting rights on within the meaning of section 65(3)(a) of the Companies Act".

In mid-July Tre...

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