Browse Directory

Woolies shares under pressure over pokies

Woolworths’ stock is under massive pressure with Victoria's 79 local councils set to vote on whether to demand their $9 billion industry super fund, Vision Super, divest its $150 million Woolworths shareholding.

This motion which will be put to a statewide meeting of councils next month at the upcoming Municipal Association of Victoria state council, has been put up after   whistleblowers from Woolworths' majority-owned ALH Group presented evidence alleging the company secretly targets vulnerable gamblers and seeks to maximise their losses.

The whisteblower evidence was ffirst presented to parliament by independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

This is a crunch issue for Woolworths with ALH, a $1.5 billion joint venture between Woolworths and the Mathieson family, being Australia’s largest provider of pokies, with more than 12,000 gaming machines in its pubs across Australia.

Vision Super will be asked to pull out its shares in Woolworths unless the Woolworths board agrees to publicly announce its intention to divest ALH Group by the end of the year.

The motion was framed following a unanimous decision of Darebin councillors.

Vision Super, which has 100,000 members, already has a policy of not investing in companies that derive revenue from weapons and armaments and is now considering extending the policy to tobacco, but not to gambling.

Any potential demerger of the ALH Group business would be complicated.

ALH is a major distributor of Woolworths liquor,

Added to that are the regulatory issues in Queensland that require retailers to own a pub before they can receive licences to run bottleshops.

Tim Costello, of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, an organisation supported by many local councils, said Darebin council should be commended.

"Divestment is a way that past and present local government workers can, through their super fund, put pressure on the company to exit this predatory industry and instead focus on being the fresh food people, rather than the pokies people," Mr Costello told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I urge all Victorian councils to support the Darebin motion."


Leon Getter - 23 April 2018