Sirius's business park in Mannheim. New chair Daniel Kitchen was voted in by a slim margin on Monday, Picture: SUPPLIED
Sirius's business park in Mannheim. New chair Daniel Kitchen was voted in by a slim margin on Monday, Picture: SUPPLIED

Many Sirius Real Estate’s shareholders voted against the appointment of new chair Daniel Kitchen, as well as the landlord’s pay policy, at its annual general meeting on Monday.

The JSE-listed German business park owner — which counts Stanlib Asset Management, ClucasGray and Coronation Fund Managers as major investors — said on Tuesday that 42.4% of votes cast went against Kitchen’s appointment as a director.

Sirius appointed Kitchen as nonexecutive chair in September 2018.

Brendon Hubbard, a portfolio manager at ClucasGray said his team voted in favour of Kitchen given his strong qualifications and knowledge of Sirius’s businesses.

“We rate Daniel Kitchen and are happy with the work he has done at Sirius. There were groups of shareholders who voted against him because he is already on various boards. Many exchange-traded funds voted against his election based on recommendations. But he is taking steps to resign from some boards and to focus more on Sirius,” Hubbard said.  

Andrew Coombs, CEO of Sirius, said in terms of UK governance rules, a director who sat on more than three boards was “over-boarded”.

“UK investors voted against his re-election because Sirius is the fourth board he joined. He was going to leave Workspace but Workspace’s CEO resigned and the largest shareholder there asked him to stay on until a new CEO is found. This is unfortunate timing.

“We are consulting with shareholders as we take this very seriously even if we see it as a temporary problem and we want Daniel to remain on our board for the long term,” Coombs said.

At the annual general meeting, 30.8% of votes cast went against the group’s remuneration policy — up from just 5.7% in 2018. A quarter of votes went against a resolution authorising the company’s directors to allot equity.

“The board has been engaging with shareholders and proxy agencies in the lead-up to the meeting and has a good understanding of the concerns of some of our major shareholders,” Sirius said.

“It is, however, the intention to extend the consultation process and report to shareholders in line with the requirements of the UK corporate governance code.”

The group invited shareholders to send their concerns in writing to the company secretary by August 12.

Sirius has listings on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.

Its share price has climbed 93% to R11.60 since listing at R6 on December 5 2014. /With Alistair Anderson

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za