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Abano sets Black Friday for special meeting, Hutson seeks public debate with Janes

Abano Healthcare [NZX: ABA] shareholders will vote on whether to dump chairman Trevor Janes on Black Friday next month after the medical investor set the date for a special meeting called by a pair of disgruntled shareholders who own almost a fifth of the company.

Investors will vote on whether to remove Janes from Abano's board with immediate effect on June 13 in Auckland, according to the notice of annual meeting released today. Janes abstained from endorsing the directors' recommendation to shareholders urging them to vote against the resolution. The meeting was called by Peter Hutson and James Reeves as they seek a boardroom shake-up since their involvement in an aborted takeover attempt last year.

"Hutson and Reeves' continuing and destructive actions risk destabilising the company, devaluing your investment and eroding shareholder value," the directors said in a letter to shareholders. "It is our duty to protect the interests of all our shareholders and the value of your investment."

Hutson, who owns the other 50 percent of Abano’s Bay International audiology business and would have gained full control for a nominal sum under last year’s aborted takeover, was removed from the board last September. Last week the Employment Relations Authority upheld Abano’s right to sack Peter Hutson and his wife Anya from their positions at Bay as chief executive and human resources director.

Separately, Hutson and Reeves are seeking a public debate between Hutson and Janes in the lead-up to the vote, putting forward their respective cases in front of shareholders in two sessions, one in Auckland and one in Wellington.

Mr Reeves said “We invite Trevor Janes to join Peter Hutson in a live, two session debate one-on-one before a live audience. We extend a warm welcome to NZSA members and to members of the public.”

“It will be a rare opportunity for shareholders to witness two very different views of the business world, Trevor Janes, Deputy Chair of the ACC and Peter Hutson, clinician and entrepreneur” Mr Reeves added.

Abano shares fell 0.4 percent to $7 and have gained 10 percent this year.

With reporting from BusinessDesk

Comments and questions

Abano share price has only gone up since Hutson started agitating about performance. Long may it continue

Fairfax reported a cumulative loss of $60 million on Bay International over a period of several years. I suspect that the real reason for Hutson's stirring is related to having to bear his 50% share of that. His uninformed criticism of the Dental side of the business seems to me like a smoke screen. The quicker he shuts up and goes away the better!

Claude, I'm not sure if you are a shareholder too but this is why a debate between Janes and Hutson is a good idea. You could be right about Hutson - or not. Or maybe Hutson knows something about how this company is being run and the types of people responsible. I don't have time to research every point coming out of either the Hutson camp or Janes camp. For example there has been some comment Janes was at Capital Merchants Finance. Is that true? I doubt it and I doubt even if he was that it was at a time when things went awry there. On the other hand it doesn't really make sense. Hutson's criticism of Dental is hardly uninformed because he was a director of Abano. And , Al Clark, and other Abano people were on the Board of Bay International too. As an Abano shareholder it is very confusing. I for one would find it very helpful to hear each of these gentlemen defend their positions ahead of the vote. Let's hope the Shareholders' Association is independent thinking enough to come out in support of that idea. I would have thought that a public debate is exactly the type of thing John Hawkins would encourage to enable smaller shareholders to be better informed by facts rather than by media, childish propaganda and lobbying.