Ticked-off investors want directors at Aust Whisky and Data Dots out, pronto
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The last 24 hours haven’t been easy for directors in the Australian Whisky Holdings and Data Dot boardrooms, as shareholder revolts at both companies seek to sweep away the old.
Australian Whisky Holdings (ASX:AWY), a Sydney company with a taste for Tasmanian single malts, is being assaulted by Hobart rich lister Bruce Neill.
Via his family company Quality Life, Mr Neill wants to rid the whisky purveyor of four of its five directors: chair Terry Cuthbertson and directors Peter Herd, Gary Mares and Stuart Grant.
Bill Lark is allowed to stay.
Mr Neill wants to replace the four men with two of his own: former Treasury Wine Estates CEO David Dearie, whose tenure there ended in 2013 after a decision to toss $35m of wine, and Geoff Bainbridge who was involved in an acrimonious falling out with his former friend and business partner in the Grill’d burger chain that ended up in court.
Australian Whisky Holdings accepts the entree of the two men, but is taking legal advice on whether the motion for dismissal was done correctly under the Corporations Act. It has been contacted for comment.
Mr Neill’s stake in the company was diluted from 14 per cent to 11 per cent, after the company issued new shares in June last year to complete a long-running takeover attempt on Lark Distillery.
Australian Whisky Holdings took over the assets and some liabilities of the infamous Tassie distillery Nant, a company which collapsed in 2017 after running an alleged whisky pyramid scheme.
It has struggled to make money out of combining whisky assets, posting a $1.5m half year loss — worse by 25 per cent – in February and dumping the CEO.
Data Dot (ASX:DDT) was issued with a 249D notice today by an unnamed shareholder with a more than 5 per cent stake.
They want two of the three directors, Stephe Wilks and Temogen Hield, fired and replaced by three new directors. They also want the company’s constitution changed so the CEO can’t also be a director, shares issued under a company loan scheme don’t have voting rights until the loan is paid, and a review of senior management and the company.
According to company statements, the shareholder who called the meeting is either an anonymous nominees account holder with 5.2 per cent, or Brad Kellas who began building a stake in February and now owns 10 per cent.
He is reportedly an ex-Victoria police detective who runs a free website to counter bike theft and earns a crust through share trading.
Data Dot, which makes nano-dots for property identification and tracking, has been in a bad way for some time.
In February it posted another half year loss, this time of $658,118 which was 114 per cent worse than the same time in 2017.
The accompanying outlook was positive, but then so was the half year outlook a year ago when it also cited an improved cost base and potential transactions as helping the company.