Voting patterns at annual general meetings can tell you a lot about what shareholders are thinking of the way management is running their company, although it’s not always clear exactly what they’re thinking.

Consider the recent Accelerate meeting, attended by a remarkable 92.7% of shareholders.

The average is closer to 70%, but Accelerate’s turnout is in line with the fact that the company is relatively new to the JSE. It was listed in December 2013 at R4.94 and is probably still quite tightly held. In what is possibly a record, resolutions received 100% support, including the reappointment of EY as auditors. Almost amazing is that the nonbinding advisory vote on the remuneration report received just less than 60% support. The resolution to place unissued shares under the control of the directors that came immediately after the remuneration vote, also received just less than 60%. It was as though a large shareholder had double-pressed the no button. After that, support was back into the ’90s, with the exception of the resolution to allow the directors to allot and issue shares to company executives. Given the group’s recent disappointing performance and management’s own downbeat forecast for the next two years, the vote against the remuneration policy was to be expected. I...

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