The West

Woodside s Shell vote on knife-edge
Woodside's Shell vote on knife-edge

Woodside Petroleum's plan to rid itself of Royal Dutch Shell's dominant stake is on a knife's edge ahead of tomorrow's meeting of shareholders.

Woodside ended days of uncertainty this morning by disclosing that proxy votes submitted ahead of the meeting were running 71.3 per cent in favour of a resolution under which much of Shell's 14.5 per cent stake is to be acquired via a selective buyback.

Even though the voting support is strongly in favour of the deal, it is short of the 75 per cent acceptance threshold required for the resolution to pass.

Woodside said 59 per cent of its issued share capital had so far been voted.

It is expected that the total includes most of Woodside's institutional investors, which could vest a surprisingly high amount of power in the hands of the Perth company's about 200,000 mum and dad shareholders.

Shell has not been allowed to vote its stake.

In its voting update this morning, Woodside urged shareholders to attend tomorrow's meeting in Perth because it provided "an opportunity ... to determine a final outcome".

Much of the opposition to the buyback has centred on Woodside's decision to use its bank of franking credits to part-pay Shell.

Proxy advisors, whose members are institutional investors, have argued the structure of the buyback is unfairly slanted in Shell's favour, at the expense of Woodside's other shareholders.

Woodside, on the other hand, has argued the structure of the deal is the most effective and efficient way to end Shell's decades-old dominance of its share register.

Woodside has also repeatedly stated that it will retain more than enough franking credits to meet its forecast payout of fully-franked dividends to all shareholders.

The West Australian

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