THERE was little to no shareholder interest shown at this morning’s Australian Agricultural Co annual general meeting in yesterday’s news that the company’s biggest shareholder had been charged in the US over insider trading.
UK billionaire Joe Lewis, who is AA Co’s controlling shareholder with more than 50pc of the stock, was on Wednesday indicted for insider trading in the US and faces charges including sharing confidential information about the impact of the 2019 Queensland floods with his pilots.
One shareholder attending this morning’s AGM approached by Beef Central said based on the published reports about the charges, in his view Mr Lewis had simply been trying to ‘lend a hand’ to a few of his loyal paid staff, and did not appear to be benefitting from the knowledge himself.
AA Co chairman Don McGauchie opened the AGM with a brief statement on the matter, including references to Joe Lewis’ investment in the nation’s biggest cattle producer. No questions on the topic were put to the board during the meeting’s open question session.
The company said it only became aware of Mr Lewis’s insider trading indictment through media sources, after it was announced by the New York Southern District attorney 24 hours earlier.
“As the proceedings are against Mr Lewis, AA Co has no further information and is not able to comment further,” Mr McGauchie told shareholders.
“The board is focused on AA Co’s business. The company will inform the market as required.”
Mr McGauchie earlier told The Australian that the AA Co board had not asked US regulators which director provided confidential information to Mr Lewis.
“I don’t even know if a director leaked the story. There is an allegation but there are allegations every day,” The Australian reported Mr McGauchie as saying.
AA Co shares were trading at $1.48 this morning, 2c up from yesterday, but 4c down on Tuesday’s close. Over the past 12 months the shares have traded in a band from $1.40 to $1.96.
- Tomorrow: What topics were on shareholders’ minds during the AA Co AGM question and answer session?