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M&B chairman ousted by major shareholders

29 January 2010 by

Mitchells and Butlers (M&B) chairman Simon Laffin has been ousted from the company's board at yesterday's annual meeting, after he lost his battle with billionaire Joe Lewis.

Results of a vote at a shareholder meeting in Birmingham's International Convention Centre (ICC) showed that 66% of the votes cast went against Laffin, who has now been replaced by outgoing Debenhams chairman John Lovering.

The vote saw an extremely high turnout, which saw almost 80% of the shares voted. Many small shareholders and institutional investors voted in favour of Laffin, but Lewis' investment vehicle Piedmont, and Elpida - owned by racing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier - voted against. Piedmont and Elpida, and six other shareholders together hold 52% of the shares in the company, enough to carry the vote.

Joining Lovering on the board are Fitness First founder Michael Balfour and Jeremy Blood, former boss of brewer Scottish & Newcastle, whose appointments were both opposed by the M&B management.

Chief executive Adam Fowle and finance director Jeremy Townsend remain in place.

The vote marks the latest chapter in a long running dispute between M&B and its major shareholders. Laffin stepped up to become M&B's chairman after Piedmont blocked the appointment first of Archie Norman and then former Hamleys boss Simon Burke last year.

Laffin's appointment saw the removal of several directors linked to Lewis, and the company referred the matter to the Takeover Panel amid fears that shareholders were acting in concert to take over the business without making a bid. However the Takeover Panel ruled that there was no evidence that Piedmont and Elpida, owned by Irish tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier, acted in concert.

Shareholders gang up on M&B chairman >>

M&B chairman likens boardroom spat to a John Grisham novel >>

Investor issues alert over failure of corporate governance at Mitchells & Butlers >>

By Neil Gerrard

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