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Elders boss Mark Allison has ditched plans to retire and will continue in the agribusiness group’s top job after being asked to stay on and given a $410,000 pay rise, plus $1 million bonus if he remains for two years.
In an announcement to the ASX on Monday, Allison said he was delighted to continue in his role as chief executive and managing director despite announcing in November that he planned to retire.
“While I had been intending to retire from Elders, it was never my intention to cease serving the interests of Australian agriculture, and this country’s farmers, after my departure,” he said.
Mark Allison will stay on as CEO of Elders after announcing in November that he would retire.
In November, he had said that “the timing is right” and his departure would allow for a “smooth transition and a leadership refresh for Elders’ next phase of growth.”
Shares in the company plummeted 23 per cent when it announced Allison’s resignation last year, despite the business posting robust full-year results. On Monday, following the latest update, its shares were up 3.5 per cent to $6.62 each about 3pm AEST.
Allison, who has been in the role since 2014, after serving as the company’s chair and executive chair, was invited to continue his tenure along with a $410,000 rise in his pay packet to $1.5 million. He has also been offered two cash retention bonuses worth $500,000 each on the condition he remains employed by Elders in June 2024 and 2025.
‘Ever since they announced his [Allison’s] retirement, the company’s shares have been going south.’
Soon after the announcement, Elders released another announcement advising that its non-executive director Matthew Quinn had resigned.
The company said the decision to keep Allison at the helm came after a “comprehensive domestic and international search” for his successor.
Elders chair Ian Wilton said the outcome was ideal for the company’s customers, employees and shareholders. “Mark’s deep experience and understanding of Elders and agriculture both domestically and globally makes his continued service ideal for Elders,” he said.
Wilton also underscored the importance of retaining Allison’s experience and knowledge as the company modernises its systems and continues its supply chain rationalisation projects.
Elders said it would still continue with its CEO succession program, aimed at developing suitable candidates for the role.
Shaw and Partners senior investment advisor Adam Dawes said after being hugely disappointed by the initial announcement in November, he was “really happy” about the company’s decision to keep Allison in the top job.
“Allison brought Elders to the forefront of investors,” he said. “Ever since they announced his retirement, the company’s shares have been going south.”
Dawes said the downward spiral in the company’s share price over the past seven months could also be attributed to farming conditions, including the prospect of a drier season after a period of abundant rainfall and strong cattle prices, but that the announcement on Monday would help stabilise the stock.
“The company’s share price has been in freefall in recent months, but I expect it to turnaround,” Dawes said.
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