Gama share­hold­ers urged not to re-elect di­rec­tor

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Bradley Ger­rard

A SHAREHOLDER ad­vi­sory group is urg­ing in­vestors to vote against the re-elec­tion of Gama Avi­a­tion di­rec­tor Si­mon To, cit­ing “in­de­pen­dence is­sues” with his po­si­tion on the board’s re­mu­ner­a­tion com­mit­tee.

ISS says such com­mit­tees should only com­prise in­de­pen­dent non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors, and claims that this pre­cludes Mr To as he is also the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Hutchi­son Wham­poa China Lim­ited.

Hutchi­son backed a £48m share plac­ing car­ried out by Gama in Jan­uary. ISS be­lieves this presents “po­ten­tial in­de­pen­dence is­sues” around the 65-year-old’s po­si­tion on Gama’s board.

Gama raised the cash for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. It spent $19.8m (£14.8m) of the money to ac­quire Hutchi­son’s Hong Kong avi­a­tion in­ter­ests: its 50pc stake in Gama Avi­a­tion Hutchi­son Hold­ings Ltd and its 20pc stake in China Air­craft Ser­vices Lim­ited. It also pledged a $20m cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in two ground base main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties in the US and the devel­op­ment of the Shar­jah busi­ness avi­a­tion cen­tre in the Mid­dle East and hinted at fu­ture pos­si­ble ac­qui­si­tions.

Mr To, who has been the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Hutchi­son China Meditech since 2006, has worked for Hutchi­son China for more than 37 years, build­ing its busi­ness from a small trad­ing com­pany to a bil­lion dol­lar in­vest­ment group.

Well-known to many of China’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, Mr To is un­der­stood to have helped or­ches­trate deals be­tween the na­tion and ma­jor global com­pa­nies such as US aero­space and de­fence gi­ant Lock­heed Martin and Ital­ian tyre maker Pirelli.

A spokesman for Gama said Mr To was a “highly ex­pe­ri­enced board di­rec­tor”. They added that, as chair­man of one of the largest com­pa­nies on Aim, he “brings sig­nif­i­cant knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to the group’s re­mu­ner­a­tion com­mit­tee and wider board dis­cus­sions”.

The com­pany added: “Fur­ther­more, Si­mon’s ap­point­ment was fully dis­closed at the time of the group’s equity plac­ing, which was passed with a strong ma­jor­ity of shareholder sup­port at the group’s EGM.”

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