Lew loses Coles Myer seat

Solomon Lew has lost his Coles Myer board seat, gaining just 43.7 per cent of the 612 million proxies cast before the shareholders’ meeting, apparently not enough to claim a majority and retain his directorship. Mark Leibler, Mr Lew's ally, kept his seat narrowly, with 57 per cent of the 599 million proxies cast before the ballot. This included 67 million undirected proxies cast by chairman Rick Allert in Mr Leibler's favour.

Mr Lew warned the board and management he would remain vigilant as a shareholder saying they should look out for shareholders' interests. He claimed he'd been given a “mandate” by the 170,000 households which voted for him with their proxies. Mr Lew may mount a legal challenge following the vote due to alleged irregularities with voting forms.

Fund managers welcomed Mr Lew's exit from the Coles Myer board, saying it should bring back some stability to the company. Tyndall Management Group's Craig Young said some fund managers had held no Coles Myer shares in recent times due to the perceived instability. But this should disappear in the near term, he said. Rohan Walsh of Invesco Asset Management said a board with good communication between it, management and shareholders was necessary to work effectively, while Investors Mutual's Anton Tagliaferro said the outcome of yesterday's meeting was “good news”, as was the company's projected profit of $435 million for this financial year.