Shoprite AGMs are invariably interesting events and this year’s was more interesting than usual. Not because of news of the exceptionally tough challenges the group is dealing with, or because even more shareholders voted against the remuneration policy. This year’s AGM was fascinating because the chair, Christo Wiese, did not attend. The absence of the chair at an AGM is rare; in Wiese’s and Shoprite’s case it is unprecedented. Wiese has been chair of Shoprite since 1991. In all of that time not only has he not missed an AGM, he has not missed a board meeting. This year he missed the AGM and the board meeting that was held immediately after. Edward Kieswetter, who was appointed to the Shoprite board in 2010, stood in for Wiese and explained to shareholders that their chair had to attend another meeting that "he could not get out of". Analysts weren’t buying it. While Wiese’s absence might have raised a few eyebrows in earlier years, the 2018 AGM was taking place almost 10 months af...

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