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JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin survives investor rebellion

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Tim Martin, chairman and founder of pubs group Wetherspoon, attends an interview with Reuters at the Metropolitan Bar in London January 13, 2012. British pubs firm JD Wetherspoon is ready to scale back expansion plans and blames a tough tax regime for exacerbating already dire trading conditions, Chairman and founder Tim Martin told Reuters in an interview on Friday.REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD)
Tim Martin, chairman and founder of pubs group Wetherspoon. Photo: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The founder of pub group JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) has survived calls for investors to oust him as chairman of the business, but faced a significant rebellion in another vote.

JD Wetherspoon held its annual general meeting (AGM) with shareholders on Thursday, where investors were asked to approve director pay and reappoint the board.

Ahead of the vote, shareholder advisory group PIRC had called for investors to vote against JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin’s reappointment as chairman. PIRC cited Martin’s unapproved spending on pro-Brexit beer mats and his long tenure on the board.

Martin responded by launching a bitter verbal attack on PIRC and some of JD Wetherspoon’s biggest shareholders earlier this month, calling them hypocritical.

A spokesperson for BlackRock, one of the investors attacked by Martin, told Yahoo Finance UK the group had “concerns about executive remuneration and board independence.”

In the end, just 1.8% of votes cast on Thursday rejected Martin’s re-election to the board. Martin and his family own a third of shares in JD Wetherspoon, meaning a rebellion would have had to been sizeable to unseat him.

READ MORE: JD Wetherspoon boss attacks 'up the spout' governance rules and advisory group

Other directors faced more sizeable revolts. Almost 20% of independent shareholders voted against the re-election of two board members, Debra van Gene and Sir Richard Beckett. 6.4% of voting shareholders also rejected JD Wetherspoon’s pay proposals.

The most significant rebellion came in a vote held separately to the AGM, asking investors to waive rules dictating Martin and his family must make a takeover offer for the company due to their significant holding. 27.6% of votes cast rejected this motion.

“The Company did undertake a consultation process with a number of shareholders prior to the General Meeting to discuss any concerns relating to this resolution,” Wetherspoon said in a statement.

“The Company continues to take its responsibility to engage with shareholders seriously and will assess the feedback it has received to inform any future decisions and consultations.”