Associated British Foods plc – Annual report – 12 September 2020
Industry: food and drink, retail
Directors’ report (extract)
Relationship agreement with controlling shareholders
Any person who exercises or controls, on their own or together with any person with whom they are acting in concert, 30% or more of the votes able to be cast at general meetings of a company are known as a ‘controlling shareholder’ under the Listing Rules. The Listing Rules require companies with controlling shareholders to enter into an agreement which is intended to ensure that the controlling shareholders comply with certain independence provisions in the Listing Rules and which must contain undertakings that:
- transactions and arrangements with the controlling shareholder (and/or any of its associates) will be conducted at arm’s length and on normal commercial terms;
- neither the controlling shareholder nor any of its associates will take any action that would have the effect of preventing the listed company from complying with its obligations under the Listing Rules; and
- neither the controlling shareholder nor any of its associates will propose or procure the proposal of a shareholder resolution which is intended or appears to be intended to circumvent the proper application of the Listing Rules.
Wittington Investments Limited (‘Wittington’) and, through their control of Wittington, the trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation (the ’Foundation’) are controlling shareholders of the Company. Certain other individuals, including certain members of the Weston family who hold shares in the Company (and including two of the Company’s directors, George Weston and Emma Adamo) are, under the Listing Rules, treated as acting in concert with Wittington and the trustees of the Foundation and are therefore also treated as controlling shareholders of the Company. Wittington, the trustees of the Foundation and these individuals together comprise the controlling shareholders of the Company and, at 12 September 2020, had a combined interest in approximately 58.5% of the Company’s voting rights.
The Board confirms that, in accordance with the Listing Rules, on 14 November 2014 the Company entered into a relationship agreement with Wittington and the trustees of the Foundation containing the required undertakings (the ‘Relationship Agreement’ as further amended and restated on 25 June 2020).
Under the terms of the Relationship Agreement, Wittington has agreed to procure compliance with the undertakings by the other individuals who are treated as controlling shareholders (the ‘Non-signing Controlling Shareholders’). The Board confirms that, during the period under review:
- the Company has complied with the independence provisions included in the Relationship Agreement;
- so far as the Company is aware, the independence provisions included in the Relationship Agreement have been complied with by the controlling shareholders and their associates; and
- so far as the Company is aware, the procurement obligation included in the Relationship Agreement as regards compliance with the independence provisions by the Non-signing Controlling Shareholders and their associates, has been complied with by Wittington.