The decision by the directors of DDL to give attendees at the company’s Annual General Meeting on Friday April 7, 2017 a bottle of
6-year-old white rum was more than insensitive; it was insulting. Clearly, the directors could not give a damn about the hundreds of Christians who were observing Lent, arguably the most sacred period in the Christian calendar.
The Hindus must consider themselves lucky that their auspicious Navratri had ended a couple of days before the Annual General Meeting. Otherwise, they too would have been forced to accept the alcohol on offer lest they offend the prominent practising Hindus on DDL’s Board. One shareholder – a Muslim – was so offended that he sent me a photograph of the rum gift with a request that I raise the matter.
As a shareholder, I feel strongly that the CEO and the Board of DDL owe an unqualified apology to all shareholders of the company, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and others, for this disgraceful act. I ask that they do not compound the offence and insult by having some underling apologise for the hubristic leadership of the company.
Let me say that it is not as if they had no choice to insult shareholders’ religions and improperly bribe them with a bottle of cheap white rum which has failed to attract the market.
At December 31, 2016, the company had $13,123 million as profits available for distribution. No, but like Banks DIH, the company sees shareholders’ funds as cheap money and pays them a pittance as dividends, which in respect of 2016 was 1/27th of the profits available for distribution. Or, expressed another way, the company can make no profits for the next twenty-six years and yet be able to pay the same level of dividends it paid in 2016 for the next twenty-six years. This practice of companies paying sometimes less than one out of every four to five dollars of annual profits after tax is a measure of the intellectual laziness and sloppiness of those who manage our big companies, and especially the accountants and finance persons in the boardrooms. They do not wish to engage in modern financial analysis in which matters of cost of various forms of capital, internal rates of return, discounted cash flow analysis and gearing are absolute requirements.
But finally I say: it is one thing to insult people’s intelligence; it is another to insult their religion.