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Upheaval at Tassal Group

Tassal Group Limited (ASX: TGR) today announced that three of its directors had resigned. In a statement to the ASX, the company said

Tassal Group Limited announces the resignation of Mr. David Groves, Mr. Gary Helou and Mr Clive Hooke as Directors of the company, today. The chairman, Mr Allan McCallum thanked each of the directors for their respective contributions to the company and wished them well in their future endeavours”.

The company, which runs salmon farms in Tasmania, did not provide any explanation for the resignations.

Suspicious minds

While its not unusual for directors to resign and move on to other endeavours, its highly unusual for three directors to resign at once. Given the resignation of another director, Jill Monk, in October 2011, it doesn’t look good – especially as all four were independent non-executive directors.

Independent non-executive directors are tasked with, amongst other requirements, making sure the board and management of the company always act in the best interests of its owners (shareholders).

This now leaves the board of Tassal Group with just three members, Chairman Allan McCallum, Managing Director and CEO, Mark Ryan and just one independent non-executive director, John Watson.

Mr Groves and Mr Hooke were members of the Risk and Audit committee. Mr Helou was not. Mr Groves had been with the company since 2007, while Mr Helou and Mr Hooke joined the company on the same day in November 2010.

Given they were all independent directors, speculation that either a clash with the CEO and or the chairman, or a corporate governance issue was behind the decision will be inevitable.

Foolish takeaway

Without an explanation from the company as to why all three directors resigned on the same day, it’s hard not to read something into it. If I was a current or prospective shareholder (read part-owner), I’d certainly be very cautious in the absence of more details.

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More reading

Motley Fool contributor Mike King doesn’t own shares in Tassal.  The Motley Fool ’s purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.  Click here  to be enlightened by The Motley Fool’s disclosure policy.

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