Multiple major shareholders who spoke to this masthead under the condition of anonymity said Qantas hadn’t provided adequate information on multiple occasions this year ranging from the true number of flight credits owed to customers and the ACCC investigation, as well as the circumstances of Joyce’s departure.
“Goyder is certainly culpable if it comes out he was aware of any of this but if he wasn’t his oversight isn’t good enough,” one of the institutional investors said.
Influential investment advisers Ownership Matters, ISS and the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, have all said they are keeping a watching brief on the company’s handling of the situation and expect the board to receptively engage with shareholders over the ongoing ACCC investigation, Joyce’s remuneration package and whether the business expects further resignations.
Legal expert and former ASIC commissioner Pamela Hanrahan said the ACCC action launched against Qantas could be likened to the money-laundering saga at Westpac in 2019 which ultimately led to the resignation of chief executive officer Brian Hartzer and long-standing chairman Lindsay Maxsted in quick succession.
“Investors and the general community expect the chairman and the board to have a clear line of sight of the organisation. When there are significant governance issues at play it is rare the departures would stop with the chief executive,” the UNSW professor of commercial law and regulation said, speaking generally.
Calls for Joyce to step down ahead of schedule intensified over the past month, as allegations of undue government influence, anticompetitive practices at the airline and his colossal remuneration dominated the news cycle.
Multiple investors who spoke to this masthead under the condition of anonymity said they had not been aware of the ACCC investigation into Qantas until news broke it had launched Federal Court action on Friday.
Moody’s Investors Service vice-president Ian Chitterer said the company remained in a strong financial position despite its recent reputational headwinds.
“While at a headline level the ACCC allegations have resulted in significant negative publicity for Qantas, we expect Qantas to remain well positioned from a credit perspective.”
Moody’s recently reaffirmed Qantas’ credit rating at Baa3 and with a steady outlook.
Stockbroker Angus Aitken criticised the board’s handling of Joyce during his time at Qantas and the handling of his exit.
“If there was one key lesson from the Alan Joyce PR fiasco in recent weeks, it is that boards of directors seem to let super star chief officer have too much rope when the financial returns are strong,” the managing director of brokerage Aitken Mount Capital Partners said in an email to clients seen by this masthead.
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