Linc Energy CEO says strike not about pay
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BRISBANE, Nov 29 AAP
November 29 2012, 8:34PM
Linc Energy has been spared a boardroom spill but admitted it needs to "sharpen its act", after the mandatory two strikes rule against its executive remuneration.
Chief executive Peter Bond said the second strike was more about investor anger at the company's poor share price than actual pay levels.
Linc Energy, which is involved in the development and commercialisation of coal to liquid fuel, has had its share price more than halved over the past year, from $1.58 to 69.5 cents.
Mr Bond on Thursday also confirmed that he had met Russian billionaire and Chelsea soccer team owner Roman Abramovich to discuss his interest in Linc's energy business.
At the company's annual general meeting, 40 per cent of poll and proxy voters opposed Linc Energy's remuneration report for 2011/12.
A similar level of discontent was registered last year.
Under new laws, a board spill motion is triggered if a quarter of shareholders oppose the remuneration report for two years running.
But the Brisbane-base Linc avoided a board spill, with 73 per cent of shareholders opposing the move.
Mr Bond told AAP after a three-hour annual general meeting that shareholders were telling him to "sharpen your act".
"Yes, there's a protest vote in there. Most of it's not about the remuneration report, it's discontent about the share price," he said.
"As CEO, I have to listen to that, of course."
With Mr Bond owning 40 per cent of Linc shares, making him ineligible to vote on remuneration, chairman Ken Dark pointed out that opposition to executive pay represented just 5.6 per cent of shares.
But Mr Dark promised to consider feedback from shareholders.
"This has been the most stressful AGM I have attended," he told the meeting.
Australian Shareholders Association representative Bill Seymour said the second vote against Linc's pay reflected shareholder dissatisfaction.
"The legislation was to get board members to listen to what shareholders are telling them," he told shareholders.
"It appears you're not quite listening."
The company's executives were paid a total of $9.5 million in the 2011/12 financial year, up from $9 million in the previous year.
However, the company had 13 directors in 2011/12, up from 10 in 2010/11.
Mr Bond was paid more than $800,000 in 2011/12, up from about $640,000 in 2010/11.
He has confirmed that he dined with Mr Abramovich in Brisbane during early November after he expressed an interest in Linc's clean energy business, which produces diesel and jet fuel from gas released from underground coal.
"We're still talking and continue to talk," he said.
"Not just Roman and his team, but we have three or four very high profile people that have all heard the story and all want to be involved in some way."
Linc owns traditional oil and gas assets in the United States and Australia, and also has separate clean energy and coal divisions with interests in China, Russia, Poland and the Ukraine.
By Stephen Johnson