Dr Mumbo

When a shareholder hijacks the Fairfax AGM

Last’s year’s Fairfax AGM had the drama of Gina Rinehart voting against the re-election of then Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett and new director Todd Sampson.

The back of AGM star Jack Tilburn speaking to the Fairfax board

Jack Tilburn takes centre stage at the Fairfax AGM

Yesterday it was a different Fairfax shareholder causing trouble for the Fairfax board with one – 89-year-old Jack Tillburn – taking aim at management, the board and one “Todd Thompson”, known to adland as Todd Sampson. 

Tilburn, often an entertaining feature of AGMs around Sydney, turned what would have been a gloomy, dull annual general meeting of the media company into a much weirder spectacle as he expressed the concerns of “VIP” shareholders like himself.

Among the highlights were:

The moment he took the mic and began his introduction telling the shareholder’s assistant: “I don’t know where my card is, it’s gone somewhere. Tilburn is my name, they know me.”  Indeed the room did.

The moment he accused chairman Nick Falloon of “being a censor” and a “dictator” after he asked three questions and then attempted to ask another three questions but the board attempted to move on.

“This is supposed to be a democracy, not a dictatorship,” the 89-year-old railed as Falloon tried to indicate he could ask his questions in the next resolution the meeting was addressing.

Tilburn on letter writing: “I wrote to Mr Hywood and he didn’t reply until three or four months had gone by. I had to write to my friend Roger Corbett to ask him to tell Hywood to write to me, which he did. I had a marvellous six to eight suggestions on how to improve the Herald but he didn’t take any of my improvements up.

“Communications to all shareholders – all 28,000 of us, we are VIPs, very important people – Mr Hywood!”

Sadly while an expert on letter writing, the star of the AGM world isn’t too familiar with TV stars, namely TV personality and Fairfax board member Todd Sampson.

“We don’t have any Albert Einsteins among our eight non-executive directors – not even Mr Todd Thompson,” he said to laughs from the board.

He might not know Todd but that didn’t stop him then becoming a TV critic: “Todd Sampson was on TV – ‘redesign your brain’ and he went forward for three or four weeks. It never redesigned my brain! I’m happy with mine at 89 years of age, I think it’s quite splendid.”

Dr Mumbo hopes that Tilburn will be back next year if only to share his 90 years of experience with the board… and particularly Todd.


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