Mathieson indicates intention to challenge Chair at Endeavour Group AGM next week

October 24, 2023
By Melissa Parker

Bruce Mathieson intends to increase his efforts to challenge Peter Hearl, the Chairman of Endeavour Group (EDG) at the EDG AGM next week.

Mathieson has issued a strong ultimatum, indicating his intention to convene an extraordinary general meeting if Hearl does not step down at the upcoming annual meeting to be held on 31 October 2023.

Mathieson endorses Bill Wavish as a candidate to bring change to the board of Endeavour Group. However, Wavish’s path faces challenges due to multiple proxy advisers advising their clients to vote against his nomination last week.

Mathieson, who holds a significant 15 per cent stake in Endeavour Group, emphasizes his financial and personal commitment to the company’s future.

He is determined not to stand by and witness what he perceives as the company’s decline under what he considers inadequate leadership.

Mathieson’s commitment extends to taking any necessary steps to drive transformation, starting with his push for the removal of Peter Hearl.

As a major shareholder, he holds the authority to call an EGM with the goal of passing a resolution for Hearl’s removal.

Endeavour Group has urged its shareholders to oppose the appointment of Bill Wavish and has refuted the allegations made by Mathieson’s faction within their activist campaign.

The company advises shareholders to exercise caution when evaluating selective and incomplete information and reiterates its commitment to acting in the best interests of all shareholders.

Mathieson argues that Hearl’s position has become untenable, citing the company’s historically low share price, which is currently approximately $5 per share.

He believes that removing Hearl is the only way to alleviate tensions with shareholders and provide the company with an opportunity for recovery.

The situation at Endeavour Group has garnered attention, particularly with the recent call by former Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett for Peter Hearl to step aside.

Bill Wavish, who is supported by Mathieson, previously worked with Corbett during their time at Woolworths, where they played key roles in the growth and expansion of Dan Murphy’s, as well as the acquisition and integration of Mathieson’s hotels and gaming operator, ALH Group, which preceded Endeavour.

Endeavour Group was spun off from Woolworths in June 2021. Woolworths and Australian Super are prominent shareholders at 9.1 per cent, although have not disclosed voting intentions.

Mathieson has expressed concerns about various issues affecting the company and sites declining share price, erosion of market share by Dan Murphy’s and BWS in favour of competitors, decreasing retail revenue, and rising costs and net debt as his reasons for intervening.

In a related development, former Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett has also publicly called for Peter Hearl’s resignation as the chairman of Endeavour Group.

As a shareholder in the company, Corbett supports Bruce Mathieson’s campaign and Bill Wavish’s nomination. He believes that a change in leadership is essential for the company’s future success.

Corbett acknowledged the recommendations of proxy advisory firms to vote against Wavish’s election but expressed reservations about their assessments, emphasizing the need for fresh perspectives on the Endeavour board.

He has publicly stressed his view that fundamental issues need to be addressed within the business and sees Bill Wavish as a candidate with the necessary skills to drive positive change.

Corbett also defended Wavish’s track record, citing improvements in Myer during Wavish’s chairmanship.

Furthermore, Corbett rejected the notion of board instability as a reason to vote against Wavish and Bruce Mathieson Jr., whose board seat is up for re-election. He emphasized the importance of addressing the underlying problems within the company.

Endeavour Group has recommended shareholders reject the appointment of Bill Wavish and has denied the allegations made by Mathieson’s party as part of their activist campaign.

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