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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why are shareholders voting against dividends at AGMs?

Recently, I noticed an interesting trend in two AGMs of Sep 2013. In the AGM of  listed jewellery retail firm Shree Ganesh held on 6th Sep 2013, 99.61% of the votes(52823544 shares) were cast against the Board of Directors proposed final dividend of 10%. Promoters own 73.46% of 7,19,06,485 shares so they seem to have voted en-bloc against the dividend, and since no one else attended, that become a 100% vote against the dividend. Maybe this was an unwritten clause in the preferential allotment done earlier that month.

In the case of Gitanjali Gems AGM held on 30 Sep 2013 http://www.bseindia.com/xml-data/corpfiling/AttachHis/Gitanjali_Gems_Ltd_011013.pdf 100% promoter votes and 99,75% 'public shareholder' votes were cast against dividend declaration, while 100% institutional shareholders voted for dividends, but ended up on the losing side. A very interesting case of maybe financial distress or trying to push the share price down.

In the previous year, infrastructure firm Atlanta Ltd saw shareholders voting against its 10% dividend(20 paise per share) but there were no other examples I noticed. 

While Indian company law permits shareholders to reduce/avoid declaration of dividend proposed by the Board, this is the FIRST time I've seen two instances of companies doing so, both financially stressed firms in the jewellery sector. But then, this was a month of several firsts with the withdrawal of audit reports in FirstLeasing, MCX etc.

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