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Meridian shareholder Peter Wakeman puts two resolutions

Meridian shareholder Peter Wakeman puts two resolutions to upcoming AGM

By Paul McBeth

Oct. 4 (BusinessDesk) - Meridian Energy shareholder Peter Wakeman wants his fellow investors to back two proposals which would see the country's biggest electricity generator, which only own renewable hydro and wind generation assets, to investigate other ways to cut carbon emissions and lobby the government to finance climate initiatives without debt.

Wellington-based Meridian is hosting its annual meeting on Oct. 26 at its headquarters on the capital city's waterfront. While the usual votes on director appointments and reappointments are scheduled, investors will also vote on two proposals put forward by their peer, neither of which have the board's blessing.

Wakeman wants shareholders to support a resolution that would direct the company to investigate other areas of business that reduce CO2 emissions. Another would direct Meridian to lobby the government to finance climate change initiatives that don't require debt.

Meridian's board recommends shareholders vote against both proposals, neither of which would be binding on the board because they relate to management. On the first resolution, the board said Meridian is a 100 percent renewable electricity generator with sustainability at the core of the business.

"The board are of the view that Meridian is already doing everything that is appropriate, sensible and commercial, including targets to convert 50 percent of our own fleet to electric vehicles and reduce corporate emissions by 10 percent per person, both by 2018," it said. "The board has established a safety & sustainability committee, which considers and monitors company CO2 emissions. As such, the board is of the view that Meridian already investigates methods of reducing CO2 emissions in accordance with its strategy."

On the second resolution, the board said it viewed policy decisions as the domain of the government and not Meridian's business, although "Meridian is supportive of policies that address climate change issues."

Both recommendations would need the government's support to get over the line since the Crown is a controlling shareholder in NZX-listed Meridian.

Its shares were unchanged at $2.865 today.

The initiatives follow a similar proposal in dual-listed Australian firm Downer EDI's notice of meeting, where a shareholder has lodged a resolution to change the civil construction and engineering company's constitution to require directors to "ensure the business of the company is managed in a manner consistent with the objective of holding global warming to below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels". Downer's board recommended shareholders vote against that initiative.

Downer's ASX-listed shares slipped 0.7 percent to A$6.785.


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