Barr board seeks vote changes

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The Independent Online
THE BOARD of Barr & Wallace Arnold, the strife-ridden transport and motor distribution group, has surprised rebel family shareholders with a call for the enfranchisement of all non-voting shares.

An extraordinary meeting will vote on the enfranchisement of the 'A' ordinary shares and issue a one-for-one scrip dividend to holders of ordinary shares to compensate them for loss of control. The dividend would be paid on the enlarged share capital.

The move comes after rebel shareholders led by the brothers Nicholas and Richard Barr last week called for an extraordinary meeting to vote on replacing Malcolm Barr, chairman, and John Parker, chief executive.

They present themselves as reformers of a backward, family- dominated company who would enhance shareholder value by enfranchising non-voting stock and dividing the company into its two core businesses to make shares more marketable in the City.

However, yesterday's move by Malcolm Barr, uncle of the brothers, could stymie their attempts to replace the board by diluting their control of the voting shares before the crucial vote.

The brothers insisted they would vote down any attempts to enfranchise the non-voting shares until they had sacked the board and were able to implement their plans.

A source close to the board denied that the intention was to head off the coup attempt, claiming that Mr Parker had insisted on enfranchisement of the shares when he joined the company in 1992.