AccorHotels faces AGM
battle over double voting rights
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[May 03, 2017]
By Dominique Vidalon
(Reuters) - AccorHotels faces a battle at its annual shareholder meeting
on Friday as a group of investors tries to block the granting of double
voting rights to some long-term shareholders.
Europe's largest hotel group has seen some big changes in its
shareholder base recently, with investors from China, Saudi Arabia and
Qatar now holding a combined 29 percent stake.
Soon, these shareholders - which include Chinese competitor Shanghai Jin
Jiang <600754.SS> - could qualify for double voting rights under rules
adopted by the French company.
Critics, including French shareholder advisory group Proxinvest, say
that would give them more control over the company without having to pay
a premium for that advantage.
Proxinvest is advising a group of 14 shareholders, led by Paris-based
investment firm PhiTrust and representing 2.3 percent of AccorHotels's
capital, which has filed a proposal to block the further granting of
double voting rights.
Big investor advisory groups Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder
Services (ISS) have backed that proposal.
"Only respecting the 'one share-one vote' principle could prevent one of
the new major shareholders, notably the Chinese competitor Jin Jiang
which for the time being is still denied a seat on the board, from
weighing in on group decisions without having to launch a takeover bid,"
AccorHotels declined to comment.
ONE SHARE, ONE VOTE
Jin Jiang is Accor's biggest investor with 12.58 percent of the shares
and 11.22 percent of the voting rights, having built its stake since
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The logo of French hotel operator AccorHotels is seen on top of the
building company's headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris,
France, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
French media reports in June 2016 that the Chinese firm could gradually
seek to gain more control over Accor drove President Francois Hollande
to state publicly that AccorHotels should retain a diverse group of
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) owns a 10.36 percent stake and
Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding a 5.79 percent stake since summer 2016.
They also each have a board seat, following Accor's takeover of luxury
hotels group Fairmont Raffles (FRHI).
Last month, AccorHotels' board rejected the Proxinvest group's proposal
to reinstate the 'one share, one vote' principle - known as 'Proposal A'
- saying it wanted to foster loyalty and stability among shareholders.
In protest, Proxinvest has withdrawn its support for resolutions to
re-elect Chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin to the board and to appoint
former French President Nicolas Sarkozy as a board member.
Proposal A will be submitted to a shareholder vote on May 5, but not as
one approved by the company's board. It needs a two-thirds majority to
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mark
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