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Cabcharge avoids board spill over salaries


Transport payments group Cabcharge has avoided a board spill after receiving a second strike against executive pay.

The shareholder mutiny came as executive chairman Reg Kermode spoke out against the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Allan Fels for challenging its 10 per cent surcharge on taxi fares.

At the company's annual general meeting in Sydney, 38.72 per cent of shareholders opposed $5.73 million being spent on executive remunerations.

This included $2.13 million for Mr Kermode, up 5.9 per cent from $2.01 million in 2010/11.

A subsequent motion for a board spill, however, failed with an overwhelming 86.24 per cent of shareholders opposing it.

Under laws introduced last year, a board spill has to be called if more than a quarter of shareholders oppose the remuneration report two years in a row.

Addressing shareholders, Mr Kermode was more concerned about RBA plans to rein in the 10 per cent surcharge levied on taxi fares.

"This company does not intend to provide services to Visa and MasterCard at a cost to Cabcharge," he said.

"Suggestions that our industry could survive on five per cent, because of some as yet unaccepted draft report to the Victorian government on the Victorian taxi industry, are not realistic and are likely to be met with significant resistance."

Professor Fels is preparing to release a report into Cabcharge's dominance of the Victorian taxi industry, and the RBA has criticised existing 10 per cent surcharges on taxi fares.

Last week, the central bank announced that a new surcharge regime would start in March next year, instead of in January as previously advised.

Mr Kermode said Professor Fels' draft report would be unlikely to produce better outcomes for drivers.

He also said discussion of the report had unfairly hit Cabcharge's market value, which has fallen significantly since the end of October.

"I would like to reassure you that this process is not necessarily the dire situation that some would lead you to believe," he told shareholders.

Cabcharge Australia shares shed three cents to close at $3.93 on Wednesday, which was well below the $5.92 they closed at on October 31.