Changes from the waste up hit stumbling block

IT IS shaping up as this year’s most toxic board scrap over the remnants of a listed hazardous waste company.

Dolomatrix wasted no time yesterday announcing that its 19.9 per cent shareholder of only two weeks, Roger Collison, had been appointed as its new managing director – and announcing plans to transform itself from a toxic waste concern into listed investment company.

Logical, one would think, given the state of financial markets. Dolomatrix cited Collison’s ”skills and experience as a funds manager”. But not all Dolomatrix shareholders appear to agree. The head of Brisbane fund manager Trojan Equity, Troy Harry, has lobbed a requisition of meeting seeking the removal of Collison and his appointment to the board with former Dolomatrix director Greg Soghomonian and Wilson Asset Management director James Chirnside.

Harry, like Collison, snapped up his 13 per cent stake after Dolomatrix paid a 35¢-a-share capital return to its shareholders after offloading its waste management business. Wilson has a 10 per cent stake, and the Soghomonian-chaired Weston Aluminium a 13.5 per cent stake.Banking ranking

RESERVE Bank assistant governor Guy Debelle provided some comfort yesterday to patriotic sports fans unhappy about Australia’s ranking on the Olympic gold medal tally, especially when compared with Team Great Britain. ”Australian banks are also benefiting from the fact that they look good compared with other banks in the world,” Debelle assured a Senate inquiry into the banking sector in Sydney yesterday. ”The risk premium on Australian banks is nowhere near as high as the risk premium on some Spanish banks.” He went further: ”We’ll get some back for the Olympics here … it’s true for UK banks too. The UK banks’ risk premiums are much higher at the moment than Australian banks.”Soft touch?

ASCIANO managing director John Mullen seems to be a softer touch when its comes to negotiating the pay rates of other chief executives, as opposed to the stevedore workers on his company’s docks.

Four months after Asciano ended its 20-month standoff with the maritime union by signing a new enterprise bargaining agreement, Telstra disclosed yesterday that its remuneration committee had approved an 8.7 per cent lift in the annual fixed pay of its chief executive, David Thodey, to $2.65 million from October.

This is on top of the 6 per cent fixed-pay rise Thodey received last October. Telstra, whose remuneration committee is chaired by Mullen, said Thodey’s fixed-pay increase would take him to the ”ASX 20 CEO market median”. Telstra said it would also seek shareholder approval for a lift in its non-executive fee pool from $3 million to $3.5 million. It disclosed that Thodey’s total pay increased from $5.1 million to $7.7 million in the year to

June 30. Telstra also disclosed that its former chief financial officer, John Stanhope, was paid a $745,000 termination benefit and secured a $600,000 12-month consulting deal ”to ensure a seamless transition on NBN-related matters”.Gray area

SIRTEX Medical has joined the list of ”first-strikers” to try to placate its shareholders before this annual meeting season, averting having a ”second strike” recorded against its remuneration report.

This would have forced its directors to automatically stand for re-election.

But the cancer treatment company’s issuing of a ”remuneration update” yesterday might struggle to avert another 25 per cent or above vote against its pay report, given the current board’s toxic relations with Sirtex’s former chairman and 17 per cent shareholder, Bruce Gray.

Sirtex provided a lengthy five-page explanation on how it had increased the ”difficulty of achieving the vesting conditions” of the performance rights granted to executives and so on. Sirtex’s remuneration committee chairman, John Eady, argued that his board had ”improved the company’s remuneration structure while enforcing its values and culture”.

But it remains doubtful Sirtex will win over one key shareholder, despite its shares hitting a 30-month high this week and tripling since Gray was dumped as chairman in August 2006.

Gray, at last year’s annual meeting, voted against all the resolutions put before shareholders.

After being dumped as chairman in 2006, Gray failed in his bid to have Eady, Grant Boyce and Sirtex chairman Richard Hill dumped from the board.

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