The embattled Myer board has made a fresh pitch to shareholders ahead of a likely explosive annual general meeting on Friday, declaring the completion of its refinancing a ‘vote of confidence’.
Myer announced on Monday it had extended the maturity on the company’s bank facility refinancing until 2021, a move that chief financial officer Nigel Chadwick said would provide a more stable platform to grow the company after a run of poor results.
But Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, Myer’s biggest investor and the perhaps the board’s loudest critic, again lashed out, accusing the board of handing the company to the banks.
‘(Chairman) Garry Hounsell has today handed the Myer keys to the big banks, who are now officially in complete control of the business,’ Premier said in a statement.
‘The failed Myer Board’s capitulation to the big banks means there is no ability to invest in the business, and no ability to pay a dividend to shareholders for the foreseeable future.’
A war of words has been ongoing between Myer and Mr Lew, who owns 10.77 per cent of the company, with tensions particularly high after shares in the troubled retailer went into freefall last week following its forced admission of another fall in sales.
Myer had been forced into a trading halt by the ASX following media suggestions it may have breached disclosure rules by failing to detail the extent of a sales decline.
The company subsequently admitted first-quarter sales fell 4.8 per cent, and 4.3 per cent on a comparable store basis.
Mr Lew repeated calls for the board to be voted out at Friday’s annual general meeting, but Mr Hounsell hit back at what he called a ‘grossly misleading and inflammatory’ campaign by Mr Lew and Premier Investments ‘designed to benefit them and them only.’
Mr Hounsell repeated his assertion that Premier Investments, which owns Smiggle and other brands, was conflicted because it is both supplier and competitor to Myer.
Myer shares rose 1.22 per cent to 41.5 cents at 1345 AEDT on Monday, still down from 45.75 cents prior to its trading halt 10 days ago.