A NASTY stoush has erupted between two of Brisbane’s premier listed companies, New Hope Corporation and Dart Energy (ASX: NHC, DTE), over positions on the Dart board.
New Hope, which owns 16.2 per cent of DTE, has put forward Rob Neale (pictured), Stephen Lonie, Peter Forbes and Cam Rathie for the board, prompting DTE chairman Nick Davies to send a letter to shareholders imploring them not to vote for the NHC proposal.
NHC chairman Robert Millner hit back today, with the company posting Davies’ letter to Dart shareholders and its own response to the ASX.
“New Hope has lost confidence in the current board of Dart Energy. All shareholders are, therefore, being given the opportunity to have their views heard at the company’s AGM,” says Millner.
Millner blames the current board for Dart’s poor share price performance over the past three years, which has seen the company’s market capitalisation drop from $510 million to $139 million.
“Without change at the board level of Dart Energy, New Hope fears that the history of poor financial performance will continue,” he says.
“The Dart Energy board needs reinvigoration. The injection of drive and determination displayed by each of the new board candidates is what is needed.”
Davies says NHC wants to “seize control” of the Dart board and is seeking diversity at the “expense of Dart shareholders”.
“The Board of Dart Energy continues to believe that this approach by New Hope is wrong for Dart shareholders. It brings in the wrong skill set for Dart at the wrong time with the wrong motives, and will deliver the wrong outcome for shareholders,” he says.
Davies goes on to list the achievements of the Dart board and says NHC has not presented any alternate plans, but Millner says “the function of setting strategy is the responsibility of the Dart Energy board. It is not a function for New Hope”.
“The need for change in Dart Energy arises because the current board has observably failed to deliver on strategy and has sought to avoid taking responsibility for the company’s performance as a consequence,” says Millner.
The scene is set for an intruiging DTE annual general meeting on November 26, when the shareholders will get their vote.
DTE is trading down 4.17 per cent at $0.115 today, while NHC is down 1.11 per cent at $3.55.
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