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Nominet Board Play Hardball With Shareholders

Mon Mar 22 2021

Nominet Chairman threatens Government intervention

The chairman of the .UK internet registry organisation Nominet has threatened members voting to remove him and the board that such actions would likely end in the Government becoming involved.

The Public Benefit campaign group, who are forcing the vote through, have responded to dismiss the threat as scare tactics.

 

The vote is scheduled for the 22nd of March in an EGM (extraordinary general meeting) and members are being asked to vote on whether all five board members, including the chairman, Mark Wood and CEO Russell Haworth, should be removed.

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Removing five directors, including two of the four independents, and pressuring the remaining directors to install candidates outside normal procedures, as the EGM petitioners seek to do, would be a huge step backwards in terms of good governance. We have been warned that instability will be of serious concern to government. We know it would create a scenario which would make intervention more likely.

Mark Wood – Chairman, Nominet

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In his statement, Wood continued to suggest that the vote could even have further repercussions, possibly risking Nominet’s future as a Membership Organisation.

 

For those that don’t know, Nominet was founded 25 years ago and describe themselves as a ‘profit with a purpose company’, owned jointly between 2,500 members, both organisations and individuals, with voting rights allocated on the number of internet domains controlled by said member.  

 

In recent times many Nominet members have become angered with the board over what they describe as “complete mismanagement”.

The complaint resolves around issues such as a 50% increase in UK domain prices but a 38% drop in Nominet’s profits, something many members ascribe to a 66% pay increase in directors’ salaries since 2015.

On top of that, many are unhappy Nominet’s charitable donations have fallen from £5.4m in 2016 to just £1.9m in 2020.

 

The main driving factor behind the group is a bloc of members known as the Public Benefit campaign who have pushed through the vote over concerns current management has a business strategy focussed solely on profit, this, despite the fact that Nominet is a NonProfit organisation.

 

In an attempt to win votes in the upcoming EGM, the Nominet board has released a new business plan which includes:

 

  • A two-year freeze on directors pay
  • A two-year freeze on .UK domain prices
  • More money to be donated to charitable causes
  • More investment in .UK registry
  • Creating a new communications channel for members

 

The Public Benefit campaign and other members most vocal in their opposition to the board however have decried these changes as too little too late, with the suggestions only coming forward after it became obvious the board didn’t have the numbers to win the vote.

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Mon Mar 22 2021

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