Rebel Abano shareholders denied

TIM HUNTER
Last updated 11:35 11/06/2014

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The High Court has ruled against rebel shareholders trying to cancel a special meeting for Abano Healthcare on Friday.

After a day-long hearing in Auckland yesterday, Justice Susan Thomas declined this morning to grant a request by Peter Hutson and James Reeves that the meeting be rescheduled.

Hutson and Reeves had called the meeting to vote on the chairmanship of Trevor Janes, but alleged the process did not give them enough time to put their case to retail shareholders.

A spokesman for the pair said they were not surprised by the decision, but were disappointed.

"We have viewed the special meeting process as fundamentally flawed from the start," she said.

"We await the judge's written reasoning."

The pair indicated they would call another meeting to repeat the vote.

Earlier, Philip Skelton QC, acting for Abano, said the special shareholder meeting should go ahead so that the dispute could be resolved "hopefully once and for all."

Hutson and Reeves own 18.6 per cent of the dental practice specialist. After requisitioning the meeting they claimed Abano had given too short notice and had misled shareholders in explaining the issues.

After initially seeking a High Court ruling to delay the meeting by three to four weeks, their counsel Bruce Stewart QC told Justice Susan Thomas yesterday they now wanted to cancel the meeting altogether.

The rebels, who were involved in an abortive takeover attempt last year, argue Abano's strategy to expand its dental practice network using debt finance is not producing results.

Stewart told the court in Auckland that Hutson and Reeves saw Abano's communications with shareholders as misleading and in breach of the company's constitution, which required it to keep shareholders fully informed.

On May 23, Abano published the notice of meeting to be held in Auckland on June 13. The date gave 13 working days notice, which was more than the 10 working days required by law.

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