Chairman of Australia's Myer to retire as top shareholders oppose re-election

Credit: REUTERS/STEVEN SAPHORE

Australia's Myer Holdings Ltd said on Thursday its Chairman Garry Hounsell will retire after failing to get the support of the department store operator's two biggest shareholders, sending its shares more than 6% lower.

Adds background on company's performance, shareholder issues, shares

Oct 29 (Reuters) - Australia's Myer Holdings Ltd MYR.AX said on Thursday its Chairman Garry Hounsell will retire after failing to get the support of the department store operator's two biggest shareholders, sending its shares more than 6% lower.

Hounsell has been a board member of the Australian high-street retailer for three years, presiding over the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic this year and the company's turnaround strategy following years of dismal earnings.

Over that time, Myer's management has come under intense pressure from its top shareholder, retail veteran Solomon Lew's Premier Investments PMV.AX.

"It has become apparent that Myer's two largest shareholders are not supporting my re-election and I will not allow my ongoing tenure as chairman to be a distraction to the hard work of the executive team," Hounsell said in a statement ahead of Myer's annual shareholder meeting.

The company's second-biggest investor is Wilson Asset Management with a 7.8% stake, according to Refinitiv data.

Independent director JoAnne Stephenson would stand in for Hounsell as acting chairwoman until a permanent replacement could be found, Myer said.

Shares fell 6.3% in early trade, their biggest drop in since Sept. 10. The broader market .AXJO was 1.6% lower.

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Stephen Coates)

((NikhilKurian.Nainan@thomsonreuters.com; Twitter: @NikhilKurianN; +91 806 182 2724;))

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