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Tabcorp AGM

October 25th, 2010 0 comments

I’m sitting in a tram full of punters, the number 70, rattling along Flinders Street towards the Tennis Centre. It’s Derby Week and this is our Spring Ritual. We’re off to the Tabcorp AGM at the Melbourne Park Function Centre. We’re a bit gloomy. It’s not like the good old days when our shares were rattling along like You Know Who. We’re only worth half of what we were before the GFC. And now they’re going to split the company in two and throw away $150 million refurbishing Randwick. We need some answers!

In the olden days when Ross (The Boss) Wilson was the CEO we loved coming to these meetings. We all fondly remember the year the Tabcorp logo collapsed dramatically on the stage, and the year when the projector jammed and Ross The Boss did his block, and the year when there was a power strike and a lack of heating. But Ross used to make us feel warm and fuzzy with profit increases and juicy dividends. The punters rarely had a question and if they did it mainly related to the quality of the refreshments on offer outside. No one complained a bit about the 100,000 shares that were to be added to Ross’s stockpile of 3.7 million. We were happy punters.

This year there is only half the usual number of punters. They are mostly your retired or unemployed, geriatric type punter, much like myself. I suppose that’s why the numbers are down, with many now unable to afford the tram fare or falling off the perch. Our new CEO, Elmer Funke Kupper, is spitting the dummy after the demerger and taking a swag of cash with him. This time there is some discussion, and Stephen Mayne, the shareholder activist, is brilliant in taking the board to task over remuneration and long term incentive payments. He succeeds in making the chairman angry and even a few shareholders ask him to sit down. They must be the ones who are only here for the feed.

After the stampede for food has settled down I manage to talk to one of the executives who explains the Randwick deal to me. It seems that in return for the refurbishment Tabcorp will be allowed to put Trackside, their racing game, in NSW TABs. Apparently it is a real money spinner. It’s hard to believe that a video game with fake races can be the saviour of Tabcorp! I always thought that it was just a novelty. But there you go.

And oh! The refreshments were most excellent. They even had lamb cutlets!

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