Wilson claims a big scalp in Hunter Hall tussle


Paul Jensen, the chair of Hunter Hall’s troubled LIC, Hunter Hall Global Value Fund (ASX: HHV), was last week removed from the board. Geoff Wilson, his antagonist and chair of HHV’s largest shareholder, says this begins the board renewal process. But two other opponents survived the meeting.

At the extraordinary general meeting on April 6, which was requisitioned by Wilson, the founder and chair of Wilson Asset Management, following frustrations with the HHV board under Jensen, unit holders voted to remove him.

Jensen had been a director of Wilson Asset Management’s WAM Capital, too, for about 13 years until February this year after Peter Hall, the Hunter Hall founder, decided to sell his shares to Washington H. Soul Pattinson over Christmas. It has been a tumultuous time for Hunter Hall shareholders.

Wilson actually lost most of his motions put at the April 6 meeting, including attempting to push out two other Hunter Hall directors – David Groves and Julian Constable – but Jensen resigned at the end of the meeting before it was revealed to all shareholders that he did not have the numbers for re-election. It was at least one loud crow for Wilson.

Wilson Asset Management has about 14.5 per cent of HHV and the new controlling shareholder of the parent company, Soul Patts, has about 12.5 per cent. Soul Patts last month announced that its investment company would merge with Pengana Asset Management, which should provide more depth to the company’s operations and breadth to its product offering.

Wilson said after the meeting, according to Fairfax Media, that his firm intended to remain a shareholder in HHV, given that the board’s “renewal process” had commenced and his general approval of the Pengana merger.

The meeting started off with acrimony, Jensen and Wilson trying to speak over each other, but ended at least on a happier note when Jensen bowed out gracefully.

Wilson said: “I have been overwhelmed with the support and assistance we have received from shareholders along the way. Together, we have delivered a strong warning to all listed investment company boards that shareholders must be treated with respect.”

Jensen, a New Zealander who moved across the Tasman in the 1990s and is an experienced director, has not had a great time in corporate Australia. He is a former managing director of the now-defunct HFA Holdings (Hedge Funds Australia) and a former managing director of Clime Investment Management ahead of its board ructions involving founder Roger Montgomery, and their overthrow, around 2013.