Whitehaven Coal managing director Tony Haggarty says investors have sent majority shareholder Nathan Tinkler a clear message after they overwhelmingly re-elected chairman Mark Vaile and four other directors.
Mr Tinkler, who holds a 19.4 per cent stake in Whitehaven, publicly declared he would vote against the re-election of Mr Vaile and directors Paul Flynn, Philip Christensen, Richard Gazzard and Christine McLoughlin at today's annual general meeting (AGM) and urged other shareholders to do the same.
He also said he would vote against the remuneration report and wanted to take over as chairman of the company.
However, while a poll of all resolutions has yet to be finalised, proxy votes and a show of hands during the AGM has indicated that Mr Vaile and the four directors have been overwhelmingly re-elected.
Mr Haggarty then took the unusual step of addressing Mr Tinkler's outbursts directly at the end of the meeting.
He said shareholders had clearly given the board a mandate to focus on Whitehaven's current strategy.
"I believe people should be judged by what they do, not what they say, and I am happy to have the track record and reputation of me and the Whitehaven team compared to that of the Tinkler Group any time," he said.
Whitehaven's board also narrowly escaped a "first strike" over its remuneration report.
A protest by Mr Tinkler led to 24.98 per cent of proxy votes being cast against the report, just shy of the 25 per cent needed for a "first strike".
Companies which find themselves with a "first strike" face the prospect of a board spill if 25 per cent of shareholders vote for a second time against a remuneration report the following year.
Excluding Mr Tinkler's votes, only 1.12 per cent of proxies were against Whitehaven's remuneration report.
Mr Vaile said the vote showed how the "first strike" legislation was open to abuse by major shareholders.
"I think it highlights one of the risks that is involved in the current legislation and how it's deployed and used by some," he said.
He said it was clear that a large majority of shareholders did not support Mr Tinkler's criticism of the board.
"It seems that Tinkler Group, who made it very, very public that they were voting against the board and against the remuneration report, have basically been a single voice," he said.
"In a quick analysis of the proxy votes that have come in, it would seem that some of those institutional shareholders that have supported the Tinkler Group over the years have voted in favour of the board and the remuneration report.
"But he said he would try to keep the lines of communication with Mr Tinkler open as it was important for the company's future.
"It is important that we remain engaged" he said.
"It's important that we try to align the interests of all shareholders."
Whitehaven's shares were 6.5 cents, or 2.1 per cent, lower at $2.985 at 12.40pm.