Stobart set to unveil turnaround specialist as new chair

Chairman Iain Ferguson

Cumbria-based Stobart Group is set to reveal turnaround specialist David Shearer as its new chairman when it announces results in a fortnight.

Sky News claims Mr Shearer, who is currently chair of Newton-le-Willows equipment hire group Speedy Hire, has been chosen to replace Iain Ferguson.

His appointment will end a year of internal strife in the Stobart hierarchy after a damaging battle with former chief executive Andrew Tinkler which fractured boardroom relations.

Sky says Mr Shearer’s appointment is expected to be part of the group’s announcement of its annual results, originally scheduled for this Wednesday, May 15.

City sources claim Mr Shearer’s reputation as a ‘Mr Fix-It’ swayed the board’s decision to make the appointment.

As well as his role with Speedy Hire, he also chairs a listed investment trust and the Scottish Edge Fund.

Stobart, which retains a stake in the separate Stobart logistics group, owns London Southend Airport as well as a range of biomass energy plants, and a rail projects arm.

In February it was part of a consortium, along with Virgin Atlantic and hedge fund Cyrus Capital, that bought the struggling Flybe Airline in a £2.8m deal.

The deal came a week after news the group had won its legal battle with former chief executive Andrew Tinkler.

Mr Tinkler had attempted to oust Stobart Group chairman Iain Ferguson last July, and had also put in a counter offer for Flybe.

The public row at the top of the FTSE-250 listed company saw Mr Tinkler fired from the board after trying to replace Mr Ferguson with his friend and neighbour Philip Day, who owns the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group.

After an acrimonious annual general meeting Mr Ferguson announced he would step down before this year’s AGM and the group would rejig its board with fresh blood.

The group said today that it has decided to move its full year results announcement from this Wednesday, May 15, to Wednesday, May 29.

It said the disposal of Everdeal Holdings Limited (“Stobart Air”) and Propius Holdings Limited as part of the Connect Airways transaction at the end of February, together with the impact of the EU Merger Regulation approval process, has required limited additional time to complete its annual report and accounts.

Today’s statement said: “Stobart Group is confident of delivering full year revenue, underlying EBITDA performance and the recommendation of a final dividend in line with management expectations.

“In particular, management is pleased with the ongoing commercial progress within its aviation and energy divisions.”