The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Rakon board move draws shareholder support

John Hawkins, new chairman of the Shareholders Association. Photo / Dean Purcell
John Hawkins, new chairman of the Shareholders Association. Photo / Dean Purcell

The New Zealand Shareholders Association says it has received strong support in its efforts to force sweeping board and management changes at Rakon.

In a letter sent to the technology manufacturer's investors last week, association chairman John Hawkins said retail shareholders - who owned a large chunk of the company - could "absolutely" make a difference.

"We have already had pledges from many investors, both large and small," Hawkins said. "They want to get this company moving again and potentially recover some of what has been lost."

The association is calling on investors to vote against the re-election of Rakon executive director Darren Robinson at the company's annual meeting on September 16.

Hawkins has labelled the company's financial performance "dismal" and said investors were "fed up" with the boardroom domination of the Robinson family, who own roughly 23 per cent of the firm.

Brothers Brent and Darren Robinson and their father Warren occupy three of Rakon's six board seats.

Hawkins has said chief executive Brent was not the right person for the job and Warren, who founded the high-tech component maker in 1967, should stand down.

The company has only made one annual profit - $3.2m in 2015 - amid total losses of $118.7m over the past five years, according to the Shareholders Association.

Rakon chairman Bryan Mogridge is also up for re-election next month.

But in the letter Hawkins said the association was wary of creating a situation where the company was left "rudderless" or in breach of NZX rules that require at least two independent directors.

"As an experienced independent chair, Mr Mogridge has a role to play in getting appropriate new directors in place, at which point we would expect him to step down."

Rakon shares, which floated at $1.60 in the firm's 2006 IPO and soared as high as $5.67 within a year, closed up 0.5c at 22.5c on Friday.

- NZ Herald

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