Shareholders Association disquiet at Opus agm

The Opus shareholders’ meeting in Christchurch yesterday afternoon proved a damp squib for anyone expecting a major row.

The Shareholders Association’s concerns about governance issues occupied a relatively small part of the meeting of the listed company.

Association representative Max Smith outlined concerns about a joint venture being established between Opus International Consultants and related company, Opus International. It will provide consultancy services to Middle Eastern clients.

Opus successfully sought shareholder approval for a “material transaction” – allowing the New Zealand company to provide services and capital to the related party joint venture without having to seek further shareholder approval.

Mr Smith told NBR ONLINE he had no concerns about the management or direction of the company, which had performed well, but was worried about carte blanche approval and would prefer to see a review every four years.

He was also concerned about proposals for three directors to be nominated by the overseas partners to the joint venture and two from locally listed Opus.

But Opus directors told the meeting shareholders would still have a say in any future material transactions and full information about the joint venture would be published with the annual accounts.

Mr Smith says he also had concerns about a PwC report into the matters before the meeting because it was confusing and difficult to understand.

Opus chairman Kerry McDonald told shareholders about developing new lines of business, new markets, and better risk management.

Managing director David Prentice outlined the company’s growth, with operating revenue up by 3.6% and underlying net profit up by 1%.

The Christchurch rebuild was crucial for the company while revenues were expected to be flat elsewhere, he says. The Christchurch team had been boosted from 80 to 290 people providing services to organisations such as Lyttelton Port, Christchurch City Council and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Opus is also targeting irrigation as a future growth area.

The company had made good progress in its work with Mighty River Power and Genesis Energy on the Ngatamariki Geothermal Power Plant.

Trading in Australia was difficult and in spite of a 21% increase in revenue the final result was a $900,000 loss on operations there.

Opus performance in Canada was healthier and there had been a big turnaround in the UK.

c.hutch@clear.net.nz

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