Abdullah wins in Water Hall vote

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The Independent Online
DAVID HELLIER

Raschid Abdullah, best known for turning a small engineering company in the 1980s into a mini-conglomerate called Evered, yesterday in effect won control of the board of Water Hall after a shareholders' vote.

Some 434 million votes were cast in favour of a resolution requiring Edward Weiss, the company's chairman, to stand down, with 155 million cast against.

Mr Weiss said that a small group of shareholders who owned significant blocks of shares and who a year ago agreed not to use their voting power against the board, accounted for approximately 60 per cent of the votes cast and they voted in favour of the resolutions.

Yesterday's events mark a return to corporate power for Mr Abdullah and his brother Osman who together turned Evered into an acquisitive mini- conglomerate before they were both forced out after a boardroom split.

The two brothers were also involved earlier in the management of Water Hall, when it was known as Starmin, but in 1993 they resigned their executive positions when the group was in need of a financial restructuring.

As part of that restructuring Raschid Abdullah, who remained on the board as a non-executive director, arranged some of the financing from Middle Eastern investors who yesterday backed him in the overthrow of Mr Weiss.

Mr Abdullah has argued that the group, which has been pulled around into profit by Mr Weiss, should now pull out of its traditional quarrying and landfill business and move into a new business.

Mr Weiss said yesterday that he regretted the outcome of the shareholders' vote "but wished the company well for the future". He pointed out that of the shareholders who voted on the motion, 1,284 voted against the motion and only 604 voted in favour of it.

However, the small group of shareholders that owned significant blocks of shares pushed the vote through on the Abdullahs' behalf.

As part of the resolution Anthony Smith, formerly with Wagon Industrial, will become a director of the company. He has said he will look at issues independently, although he is perceived to be a supporter of the Abdullahs.

Raschid Abdullah told shareholders at yesterday's meeting that he had an "open mind" about the strategy Water Hall should follow.

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