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Sheppard seeks sacking of Geneva directors

The New Zealand Shareholders’ Association is seeking support from Geneva investors to oust three directors and to replace them with its own nominees including association chairman Bruce Sheppard.

Wednesday, September 24th 2008, 6:55AM

by Jenny Ruth

"We note with some concern that the current board of directors is largely unchanged from that which held office prior to the recent recapitalisation and ownership change," the association says in a letter to Geneva investors.

Given the changes and the significant change in shareholding in favour of the debenture and subordinated note holders, "the company’s recent poor performance and the importance of ensuring an independent board to protect the interests of all shareholders, we don’t think that is appropriate," it says.

Debenture holders now own 53.6% of the company and note holders own 21%.

Among the three directors the association wants to replace is Peter Francis, the company’s previous principal shareholder through Financial Investment Holdings, whose stake was cut from 100% to 25.4% in the reconstruction. It also wants to replace Brian Walsh, who has been a director since 2003, and managing director David O’Connell, who joined the company in 2006 as chief financial officer and was appointed to the board in June 2007.

"It is a matter of public record that the entire current board of directors are linked in some way with common business interests and other directorships," the association’s letter says.

As well as Sheppard, who is a chartered accountant, it is proposing TVNZ director June McCabe and Tony Boswell, both of whom have banking backgrounds, as replacements. Boswell is a Geneva depositor shareholder and was originally approached by Geneva’s board to become a director.

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