Friday 9 August 2019 10:33 am

Investec shareholders protest reappointment of auditors KPMG and EY

Shareholders at Investec have protested against the reappointment of the group’s auditors at its annual general meeting, which also saw protest votes about directors’ remuneration

Just over a fifth (20.1 per cent) of votes cast by shareholders opposed the reappointment of KPMG as joint auditor of Johannesburg-listed Investec Ltd, while 16.6 per cent voted against the reappointment of EY as the company’s second auditor.

12.9 per cent of votes cast opposed the reappointment of EY as auditor of Investec Plc, the group’s London-listed business. KPMG has audited Investec Ltd for 25 years, while EY has it for 44 years. EY has also audited Investec Plc for over ten years. 

Pirc, a shareholder advisory firm, had encouraged investors not to reappoint the auditors over concerns that failure to regularly change auditors can compromise their independence.

 It had also advised investors to oppose the reappointment of five of of Invesco’s twelve directors on the grounds they were “not considered independent”. All five were reelected at the meeting.

Tim Bush, head of governance at Pirc, told City A.M.: “The appointment of auditors has been a key concern of PIRC over the years. The lack of rotation of auditors has been a key one that the regulators are also seeing as important.”

Shareholders also indicated their dissatisfaction with executive pay at the specialist bank and asset manager. 18.7 per cent of shareholders voted to reject its directors’ remuneration report for 2018, while 18.4 per cent opposed its directors’ remuneration policy. 

Pirc had recommended that shareholders vote against the two motions. Pirc’s report on Investec said the estimated ratio of CEO pay to average employee pay (28:1) is “considered unacceptable”. 

Investec said the reappointment of its auditors had been “discussed at length with the grou’s largest shareholders” and that its board “will continue to engage with shareholders and consider shareholder feedback in developing and refining its policies and practices”.

Shares in Investec Plc were down 1.34 per cent in morning trading to 427.3p.