Gama shareholders urged not to re-elect director
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.”