Court kicks out Tinkler’s Stobart ballot bid

Andrew Tinkler

The Stobart board has moved to thwart an attempt by former chief executive Andrew Tinkler to be re-elected as a director at today’s annual general meeting in St Peter Port, Guernsey.

A Guernsey court has backed a move to keep Mr Tinkler’s name off today’s ballot.

But he could still force a vote by turning up at today’s meeting and forcing a resolution on the issue.

Following the court’s judgment a spokesman for Stobart Group said: “The board has a duty to ensure to act in the interests of all shareholders and maintain the high standards of corporate governance that it has established over the last four years.”

Earlier this week, the board of the Carlisle-based group urged shareholders to reject any attempt by Mr Tinkler to gain re-election at the AGM.

On Monday the board issued a statement revealing that Mr Tinkler served notice, on June 28, that he intends to propose himself for election to the board at the AGM.

The statement continued: “For the reasons set out in the company’s announcements of 14th and 15th June 2018, the board considers, were a resolution to appoint Mr Tinkler as a director to be proposed, that its passing would not be in the best interests of the company and shareholders as a whole.”

And it insisted: “Accordingly, the board recommends that the shareholders vote against any resolution to appoint Mr Tinkler as a director, if proposed at the Annual General Meeting.”

Mr Tinkler was sacked from the board on June 14, in a row over his bid to oust current chairman Iain Ferguson and replace him with his own nominee, North West entrepreneur Philip Day, the owner of Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

Announcing his dismissal, the board also revealed that it would be taking legal action against the former chief executive.

In a letter to shareholders, independent director Andrew Wood explained the board’s decision, saying Mr Tinkler’s actions ran totally counter to the firm’s management strategy.

He wrote: “It is his right as a shareholder to propose a change.

“However, his wider actions, particularly in writing to all employees, have now threatened to destabilise the company and have put at risk the interests of all shareholders.”

And in another twist to the Stobart saga, popstar Ronan Keating stepped in to make an unexpected contribution to the very public row last weekend.

The former Boyzone singer offered his support to Mr Tinkler, who he described as a friend.

Keating’s unexpected declaration of support followed a statement by William Stobart, the son of the founder of the trucking empire, criticising Mr Ferguson and chief executive, Warwick Brady, for their ‘vindictive campaign’ against Tinkler.

Mr Tinkler owns nearly eight per cent of Stobart, while fund manager Neil Woodford, who backs Mr Tinkler, holds nearly 20 per cent and fellow rebel Allan Jenkinson, a former director, owns 5.5 per cent. But Ferguson-backing Invesco owns nearly 25 per cent.

Ahead of today’s meeting the board issued a statement regarding current trading.

It said the group remains on track to deliver its medium-term objectives of growing its London airport in order to welcome five million passengers a year by 2022, supplying more than 3m tonnes of renewable energy fuel per annum by 2022 and realising value through disposal of non-operating assets to support the dividend.

A quarterly interim dividend of 4.5p will be paid today to shareholders, bringing the total dividend for the year to 18p per share.

The board also announced that Richard Laycock has decided to step down as its chief financial officer and executive director and will not be putting himself forward for election at the AGM, but will continue to support the Stobart Group business.

The board has commenced an executive search to identify a suitable interim replacement for the role.

Looking ahead, the board said the group has started the year trading satisfactorily and a further update will be provided when it announces its results for the six months to August 31, 2018, which is expected to be made on October 18.

Chief executive Warwick Brady said: “Since stepping into my role last year, we have made significant progress across our business divisions, and continue to focus on delivering on our ambition to double the value of the business by 2022.”

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