Unrest continues between pub operator Mitchells & Butler and investor

13 January 2010 by
Unrest continues between pub operator Mitchells & Butler and investor

The war of words between pub operator Mitchells & Butler (M&B) and investor Joe Lewis rumbles on, as Lewis's investment vehicle Piedmont denied that it was trying to take control of the firm.

In an open letter to shareholders, Piedmont said it had "grave concerns" over the way in which the M&B board had tried to present its intentions.

The letter follows a statement to shareholders by M&B which urged them to accept only two of Piedmont's nominations for appointment to the board - Simon Burke and John Lovering - and urged them to reject two others - Jeremy Blood and Michael Balfour.

Piedmont said: "We believe that the way in which the Board has conducted itself around the events of the past few weeks reflects a wider malaise in the corporate governance of M&B," said Piedmont.

"This Board and its advisers are predominantly the same group of individuals that have cost shareholders £500m through their mistakes in recent years and have presided over a culture of obfuscation and excess.

"Piedmont's active and involved engagement over the past year has been entirely consistent with the best norms of corporate governance.

"The Board's conduct, by contrast, has been characterised by a desire to preserve the interests of a small group of individuals rather than a concern for the best interests of the Company."

It claimed that it had "never sought to take control of M&B" but called for a "complete overhaul" of the company's board.

The letter comes ahead of M&B's annual meeting on 28 January, when shareholders will vote on the nominations to its board.

M&B has not yet responded to the letter.

M&B holds crisis talks with shareholders ahead of AGM >>Mitchells & Butlers accepts two of four board nominations from rebel shareholders >>

Mitchells & Butlers reports strong Christmas and New Year sales >>

M&B appoints Simon Laffin as new chairman >>By Neil Gerrard

E-mail your comments to Neil Gerrard here.

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