Telecom major Bharti Airtel obtained an overwhelming majority on all the resolutions floated at its annual general meeting (AGM). Public disclosure made by the company on Wednesday showed it obtained between 89.6 per cent and 100 per cent ‘for’ votes on the seven resolutions.
Interestingly, the resolution that got the highest number of ‘against’ votes was on re-appointment of Sunil Bharti Mittal as the chairman of the company (10.43 per cent dissenting votes). Two other resolutions on appointment of Nisaba Godrej as an independent director and payment of commission to non-executive directors got 6.7 per cent and 4.4 per cent dissenting votes.
Other resolutions included re-appointment and appointment of Rakesh Bharti Mittal and Tao Yih Arthur Lang as a director liable to retire by rotation, which obtained over 98 per cent ‘for’ votes.
The 10 per cent dissenting votes on Sunil Mittal’s appointment was on account of an ‘against’ recommendation made by Stakeholders Empowerment Services (SES), said market observers.
While the voting advisory firm said there were no concerns around Mittal’s time commitment and attendance, it said Bharti Airtel should ensure that its chairman doesn’t hold an executive position.
“Although, presently there is no legal bar on the chairman of the company from holding executive positions. SES is of the view that in light of law applicable in future as a good governance practice the company should have separated the position of chairman from executive position. Good governance measures must not wait for an effective date and must be embraced immediately,” the SES note said.
Market regulator has directed top 500 listed companies to separate roles between the chairperson and the managing director from April 2022.
"Bharti Airtel takes pride in setting high standards of governance and transparency. It has been a pioneer in adopting best practices much before the statutory mandate. We will continue to be ahead of the curve when it comes to compliance with all guidelines," said an Airtel spokesperson.
Other proxy advisory firms Institutional Investor Advisory Services (IIAS) and InGovern had recommended ‘for’ votes on all the resolutions.
“The company seeks to reappoint him (Mittal) as executive chairperson for five years from 1 October 2021. He will continue to remain executive chairperson till Sebi regulations permit,” said a note by IIAS, citing a company clarification on the issue.