Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

In the investment platform’s annual report released last week, it revealed it had “shared protocols” for interactions with Hargreaves and his board representative “to ensure a common understanding of how interactions will take place”.

Hargreaves is still the largest shareholder in the firm, holding 19.8% of shares as of 30 June 2023, despite stepping down from the board in 2015. He has frequently spoken out against the actions of the firm.

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Following Hargreaves’ decision to reduce his shareholding from 24.4% and no longer be a controlling shareholder of the firm in 2020, a shareholder agreement was drawn up between the two parties.

This included the right for Hargreaves to nominate one non-independent non-executive director to the board, with Adrian Collins being selected, while ensuring transactions with the co-founder “are conducted at arm’s length and on commercial terms”.

However, in February 2023, the firm felt the need to share protocols with Hargreaves “to codify relevant obligations of each party under the shareholder agreement”.

This came following months of attacks from Hargreaves, such as in October when Hargreaves hit out against chair Deanna Oppenheimer over the “diabolical” performance of the platform, or in December when he rubbished plans from outgoing CEO Chris Hill.

Oppenheimer and Hill have frequently been the targets of criticism from Hargreaves, and in July, rumours began circulating that Oppenheimer would step down from her role.

At the time, a spokesperson for the investment platform told Investment Week that although Oppenheimer was re-elected at the AGM with the “necessary majority”, they recognised it was not the strongest result, adding: “The board will consult with the specific shareholders who did not vote in favour to understand any concerns.”

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Oppenheimer and non-executive director Moni Mannings both received less than 80% of votes in favour at the firm’s AGM, triggering a consultation.

“Having considered the feedback from that process, the board remains supportive of both individuals,” the firm said in its annual report last week (23 October).

The firm’s stock price is down 53.6% over the last two years, according to data from Morningstar Direct.

Hargreaves Lansdown declined to comment.

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