JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin survives investor rebellion

Oscar Williams-GrutSenior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Tim Martin, chairman and founder of pubs group Wetherspoon. Photo: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
Tim Martin, chairman and founder of pubs group Wetherspoon. Photo: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The founder of pub group JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) has survived calls for investors to oust him as chairman of the business, but faced a significant rebellion in another vote.

JD Wetherspoon held its annual general meeting (AGM) with shareholders on Thursday, where investors were asked to approve director pay and reappoint the board.

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Ahead of the vote, shareholder advisory group PIRC had called for investors to vote against JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin’s reappointment as chairman. PIRC cited Martin’s unapproved spending on pro-Brexit beer mats and his long tenure on the board.

Martin responded by launching a bitter verbal attack on PIRC and some of JD Wetherspoon’s biggest shareholders earlier this month, calling them hypocritical.

A spokesperson for BlackRock, one of the investors attacked by Martin, told Yahoo Finance UK the group had “concerns about executive remuneration and board independence.”

In the end, just 1.8% of votes cast on Thursday rejected Martin’s re-election to the board. Martin and his family own a third of shares in JD Wetherspoon, meaning a rebellion would have had to been sizeable to unseat him.

READ MORE: JD Wetherspoon boss attacks 'up the spout' governance rules and advisory group

Other directors faced more sizeable revolts. Almost 20% of independent shareholders voted against the re-election of two board members, Debra van Gene and Sir Richard Beckett. 6.4% of voting shareholders also rejected JD Wetherspoon’s pay proposals.

The most significant rebellion came in a vote held separately to the AGM, asking investors to waive rules dictating Martin and his family must make a takeover offer for the company due to their significant holding. 27.6% of votes cast rejected this motion.

“The Company did undertake a consultation process with a number of shareholders prior to the General Meeting to discuss any concerns relating to this resolution,” Wetherspoon said in a statement.

“The Company continues to take its responsibility to engage with shareholders seriously and will assess the feedback it has received to inform any future decisions and consultations.”

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