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AAP

November 22 2012, 4:55PM

By Stephen Johnson

BRISBANE, Nov 22 AAP - A senior executive with rail freight giant QR National has downplayed shareholder anger at its executive pay levels, describing it as "topical".

QR National's senior vice president of coal business development was asked about shareholder anger at the Major Projects Conference in Brisbane on Thursday.

"It was a very topical conversation but all of our resolutions passed including our name," James Moutafis told the forum.

The company's annual general meeting on Wednesday overwhelmingly resolved to change QR National's name to Aurizon Holdings from December 1.

As well 14 per cent of proxy shareholders voted against the company's executive remuneration report at the meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Investor groups, including the Australian Shareholders Association, were opposed to the granting of $18.8 million for QR National's nine key executives, including a $4.56 million salary package for chief executive Lance Hockridge.

Mr Moutafis was not among that group of executives.

The company avoided a "first strike", as the percentage votes against the remuneration report was less than the 25 per cent trigger that would lead to a board spill in 2013 if that level of opposition was achieved for a second consecutive time.

The resolution supporting the remuneration report was passed, thanks to support from the Queensland government, which until Wednesday had a 34 per cent stake in QR National.

Following a separate meeting on Wednesday, the Queensland government now has a smaller 18 per cent stake in QR National.

The decision comes two years after the freight company was separated from Queensland Rail and privatised by the former Bligh Labor government.