The board of pub operator Mitchells and Butlers (M&B) and its major shareholders are holding crisis talks in a bid to avoid a showdown at the group's annual meeting at the end of the month.
Leading shareholder Joe Lewis, the Bahamas-based billionaire who owns a 23% stake in the company, is at odds with the pub operator over strategy.
Piedmont, Lewis' investment vehicle, has proposed four new board members after M&B ousted two Piedmont board representatives and two other non executive directors after allegations were made that they were not acting independently of each other.
It is thought that M&B will tell shareholders whether or not to back the four independent board nominees put forward by Piedmont. M&B fears that Piedmont could muster the majority of shareholders on 28 January and force the nominees through.
Talks have begun in an attempt to find a compromise, according to the Financial Times. However, one person close to the situation told the paper: "It is not an issue about the calibre of these people. If there is a debate to be had, it is whether a 23% shareholder should be nominating up to six directors."
Piedmont declined to comment as talks continued.
By Caroline Gosney
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