KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp Bhd defended its board on Friday after BlackRock Inc issued a scathing statement, attacking the firm’s handling of a coronavirus outbreak and saying it had voted against the re-election of six directors this week.
The six independent directors were re-elected at the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, gaining between 86.5% and 72.3% of shareholder votes.
The world’s biggest asset manager cited workers’ accounts of working and living conditions, the firing of a whistleblower and the virus cluster in its condemnation of the board, and said it would vote against the re-election of other directors at future meetings.
In its statement, Top Glove, the world’s biggest maker of medical grade gloves, said its independent directors have served an average of six years and that the board meets regularly to discuss the pandemic and other governance matters.
A BlackRock unit, BlackRock Institutional Trust Co, is the tenth biggest shareholder in Top Glove, holding 1.07% of its shares.
More than 5,000 foreign workers at Top Glove were infected and one died during a coronavirus outbreak last year in what became Malaysia’s biggest cluster.
Separately, Top Glove told Bursa yesterday that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has ceased to be a substantial share of the company.
A filing with Bursa Malaysia showed that the retirement fund had disposed of 40 million shares of the world’s largest glove maker on Tuesday.
Before the disposal, its shareholding was 5.39% or 432.85 million shares on Monday.
After the disposal, its shareholding was reduced to 392.85 million shares, or 4.79%.
A substantial shareholder, according to Section 136 of the Companies Act 2016, must have not less than 5% of the total number of voting shares in the company.
Top Glove share price closed at RM5.72 on Jan 5, off the intra-day low of RM5.52. The counter closed at RM6.50 apiece yesterday.
EPF bought into the company in early October 2020. It raised its stake to above 6.6% in mid-November but has been paring down its position in the counter after 28 of its factories were shut down temporarily in stages in November as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak among its workers due to poor living conditions. — Reuters
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