Investment group Remgro — which has a portfolio worth about R150bn — looks serious about garnering shareholder input on its remuneration policy.

Remgro has officially invited shareholders who voted against the nonbinding vote on remuneration policy at last week’s annual general meeting to engage with the company in a telephone conference to be held on December 13.

At the meeting, Remgro experienced some resistance to the nonbinding advisory vote on the remuneration policy, with almost 19% of shareholders voting against the resolution. At the meeting, chairman Johann Rupert estimated that nearly 40% of shareholders voted against the resolution if Rupert family votes were excluded.

Before the vote, Rupert called on shareholders to help find an appropriate structure for remunerating executives.

He expressed surprise that there were no questions from shareholders on the resolution, suggesting the dissenting votes were prompted because Remgro did not have clear key performance indicators (KPIs).

He said: "I would like to ask these investors to advise us how they would like us to set up these KPIs. It is difficult when you are a diversified investment holding company to apportion blame or reward."

Most market watchers felt the engagement was positive and had the potential to stir an intriguing debate.

Shareholder activist Theo Botha said it was curious that Remgro had now chosen to engage with shareholders when the group previously was reluctant to put the nonbinding vote on remuneration to the annual general meeting.

"Their disclosure around remuneration has been poor."

He said he was not sure a telephonic conference was the best platform for a debate on remuneration policy. "I hope shareholders are not reticent … we need a brutal and frank discussion on remuneration."

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