Stobart Group, the infrastructure conglomerate, will seek to restore order to its warring boardroom by announcing the appointment of a new City broker amid an attempt to oust its chairman.
Sky News has learnt that the company, which has been hit by a rebellion led by former chief executive Andrew Tinkler, will say in the coming days that Canaccord Genuity is replacing Cenkos Securities in the role.
The appointment of Canaccord will come soon after Stobart Group confirmed that investors holding approximately one-third of its shares were seeking to replace the current chairman with Philip Day, the billionaire owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM).
Cenkos resigned the brokership because of its long-standing relationship with Mr Tinkler and Woodford Investment Management, a major Stobart investor which is backing his campaign.
Mr Day’s emergence as the shock choice of some of Stobart’s biggest shareholders to replace the current chairman, Iain Ferguson, was announced on Tuesday.
Sky News had reported the development late last week.
Woodford has a shareholding of just under 20% of Stobart, an infrastructure company whose assets include London Southend Airport.
Mr Day, whose fortune was estimated at £1.2bn by the recent Sunday Times Rich List, has never served on a public company board before.
The conflict pits Mr Day, one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, against Mr Ferguson, a former Tate & Lyle boss who has a wealth of boardroom experience.
Stobart Group, which has endured a difficult time in recent months, a period in which it aborted a potential takeover offer for Flybe, the regional airline, saw its shares slip to a 12-month low on Friday.
Mr Tinkler, a director and 7.7% shareholder in the company, said in a statement last week that his “only objective is to ensure that the company sticks to the agreed company strategy and does not deviate from this, as this will deliver the best returns for shareholders”.
Stobart Group operates across sectors including the supply of biomass for renewable energy generation, civil engineering for rail projects and a domestic airline called Stobart Air.
My view is that a change of chairman would help to achieve that objective, and I know that view is shared by a number of major shareholders,” Mr Tinkler added.
“The current chairman…has however resisted any suggestion that he should resign and has decided, with the support of certain other directors, to make that disagreement public, rather than allowing time for discussions to continue in private and for proper soundings to be taken from the company’s major shareholders.”
The former chief executive, who stepped down last year to be replaced by Warwick Brady, an ex-easyJet director, added that the company had sanctioned the release of an announcement which contained “false and defamatory material about me, and information regarding the Company that I consider to be misleading”.
Stobart had said that Mr Tinkler’s conduct had caused “a number of challenges”, some of which related to financial actions allegedly aimed at benefiting him.
Invesco, Stobart’s biggest shareholder with a 25% stake, is backing Mr Ferguson and the rest of the board.
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Stobart’s AGM was scheduled to take place on 28 June but will now be held “slightly later”, according to the company.
A Stobart Group spokesman declined to comment.