23 Sep 2008

Contact directors' fees to be doubled

2:49 pm on 23 September 2008

Contact Energy intends to double the pool of fees directors receive to $1.5 million.

Shareholders will vote on the raise at the annual meeting next month of shareholders of the energy generator and retailer.

But the vote will be a formality because the company's majority owner has signalled its support.

Contact Energy wants to raise the total pool of directors' fees from $770,000, to $1.5 million, backdated to 1 July.

The fees were last raised in 2004. Contact argues fees are considerably below market rates and an increase is needed to attract and retain the best talent in the boardroom.

For it to succeed, the resolution needs the suport of more than half of shareholders.

Radio New Zealand's business editor says that is guaranteed because the stock exchange has granted Contact's majority owner, Origin Energy, a waiver that will allow it to use its 51% stake to vote in favour of raising fees.

Separately, independent directors Phil Pryke and John Milne are up for re-election.

In 2006, they faced considerable criticism from some smaller investors after urging shareholders to support merger talks between Contact and Origin Energy that eventually failed.