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Solomon Lew forced to defend bonuses against shareholder revolt

Business

Premier Investments chairman Solomon Lew has hit back at shareholders who voted against the company’s executive pay and served a “first strike” on the board.

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Lew was quick to respond to more than 48 per cent of shareholders who voted against executive remuneration at Premier’s annual general meeting on Friday.

Chief executive Mark McInnes’ salary was $2.75 million and he received bonuses of $2.5 million and shares.

Lew said it was unclear how the dissenting shareholders’ vote could be justified, given the company’s outstanding performance.

“Where management teams deliver outstanding results, they should be rewarded for doing so,” he said.

Lew said McInnes and the board had delivered record results in each of the previous nine years.

Premier Investments retail chains include Jay Jays, Just Jeans, Peter Alexander and Smiggle.

Mr Lew claimed the dissenting vote had been driven by proxy advisers.

The shareholders’ vote does not stop the payments but puts pressure on the directors to retain their positions at the next meeting.

Under the `two strikes’ rule, if more than 25 per cent of shareholders vote against two consecutive remuneration reports, it triggers a board spill.

Mr Lew was re-elected as a director, as were Henry Lanzer and Michael McLeod.

While some shareholders questioned Mr Lew’s outspoken nature, Premier’s deputy chairman David Crean cited the vote result.

“Many retail companies in Australia would love to have Mr Lew as its chairman and he’s just received over 99 per cent of shareholder votes,” Mr Crean said.

Mr Lew this year called on shopping centres to reduce rents for retailers during the height of the pandemic and blasted the performance of department store chain Myer.

Shares were higher by 0.74 per cent to $23.00 at 1338 AEDT.

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