8 Oct 2018

NZX shuts down Elevation Capital's 'unreasonable' demands

3:23 pm on 8 October 2018

The NZX board has knocked back a list of demands by Elevation Capital as the shareholder scales up efforts for reform of the market operator.

NZX in Auckland.

An NZX sharehold has made new demands of the stock exchange. Photo: 123RF

Elevation, which owns 2.3 percent of the NZX, made new demands of the stock exchange including the replacement of three directors with its own nominees, the re-appointment of a former strategist at the NZX, and the reimbursement of expenses by NZX directors and executives who recently travelled to New York.

The NZX rejected the demands outright, saying the demand for seats on the board was outlandish and would ride roughshod over the interests of other shareholders.

It also rejected the demands to reinstate the former senior strategist, John Fernandes, and would not refund the costs of the recent overseas trip to sign an alliance with the tech market operator Nasdaq.

"The trip concerned was high value for NZX, given the multi-faceted partnership with Nasdaq, and the need for NZX to be well positioned for technology and structural change in global capital markets," the company said in the statement.

"The board will always engage with shareholders on reasonable concerns, and have sought to do so in this case. However, after carefully considering these demands from a shareholder with approximately 2.3 percent of company shares, the board deemed them unreasonable."

Elevation offered to stop its public criticism of NZX, not pursue a special meeting, and not to increase its shareholding above 5 percent, if its demands were met.

Last week, it released a plan to reform the NZX which it said was top heavy with management, wasteful with money, failing to deliver good returns for shareholders, and should get back to basics.

NZX said it would use any special shareholders' meeting to discuss the strategy it laid out last November, which had been criticised by Elevation for failing to deliver.

Elevation put forward an alternative strategy last week, which suggested reform of the NZX, including reduction in the number of executives, the spin-off its fund management business and focus on regional development, rather than pursue global alliances.