Woolies: separate meeting waste of money
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Supermarket giant Woolworths has argued in court that holding a separate meeting to discuss placing restrictions on its gaming machines would waste more than $500,000 of shareholders' money.
Woolworths has applied to the NSW Federal Court to have the meeting delayed until its annual general meeting (AGM) on November 22.
However, activist group GetUp! told the court that the more than 200 Woolworths shareholders who requested the company hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to discuss the issue have the right to be heard at a separate meeting free of distractions.
The resolution of the 210 shareholders, led by GetUp!, calls for shareholders to vote on amending the company's constitution to prevent it from owning or operating poker machines with more than a $1 maximum bet.
The resolution, which was sent to Woolworths on June 25, also imposes revenue limits of $120 an hour and prevents the use of gaming machines for more than 18 hours from 2016.
Under the statute if more than 100 shareholders request an EGM to put forward a resolution, then the company has to call the meeting within 21 days and hold the meeting within two months.
Woolworths' lawyer James Lockhart SC said as the resolution would not take effect until January 1, 2016 delaying the EGM until November 22 would not have any effect on the outcome of the vote and it would also save shareholders $550,000.
"The saving of costs of over $500,000 is a powerful reason for the court to grant an extension of time," he said.
But lawyer for GetUp! and the 251 shareholders Garry Rich said under the legislation the 210 shareholders have the right to have a separate meeting within two months of their request dedicated to the issue.
"The plaintiff hasn't met its onus on a sufficient basis to defer the meeting," he said.
"The only one ground it has is that meetings cost a lot of money."
GetUp! has claimed the cost of holding the EGM was less one per cent of the profits Woolworths made from its 12,000 poker machines each year.
Justice David Yates will deliver his judgment on the case at 3pm (AEST).