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Camera ban at Argosy AGM where unit-holders may vent

Argosy slaps ban on cameras at AGM where disgruntled unit-holders may vent

Aug. 23 (BusinessDesk) – Argosy Property Trust has banned cameras from its annual meeting where proposals to be voted on include dumping the current ANZ Bank manager, One Path, instead of a more conventional internalisation of the contract.

A group of institutional investors led by the Accident Compensation Corp. will put motions to the meeting to remove the manager under the provisions of the Unit Trusts Act with no compensation. The actual removal would have to be done by the trustee, which has already indicated it would reject such a move.

A second motion at the Aug. 30 meeting in Auckland comes from DNZ Property Fund Ltd., which has proposed taking over Argosy. Media wanting to attend the meeting must apply for an invitation. While cameras are banned, a photo-call may be arranged, according to PR firm Senescall Akers.

The independent directors of Argosy, Peter Brook and Trevor Scott, have backed a proposed management buyout for $20 million, down from $32.5 million originally suggested by One Path. Brook and Scott have both come in for criticism because of the ambiguity of the role – a fiduciary responsibility to the manager’s board and what the NZ Shareholders Association called a “moral duty” to unit holders.

That proposal now also has the backing of the Shareholders Association, which says the ACC option risks a costly lawsuit from One Path if successful but with that prospect unlikely because the Unit Trusts Act provisions are on the basis of incompetence by the manager, which can’t be shown. The DNZ plan wouldn’t save unit holders any money and had “many uncertainties.”

The NZSA argues that the costs of forcing the removal of the manager would amount to almost $20 million anyway and it would be better to buy out One Path’s contract and ensure an orderly transition.

Advisory firm Grant Samuel this month deemed the terms of the proposed internalisation of the OnePath contract is “fair” and “in the best interests of unit holders.” It valued the contract at between $19.7 million and $23.7 million if it was sold to a third party today.


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