Bunhill: Kitchen-sink drama (CORRECTED)

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The Independent Online

CITY rows can be fun. Take the case of Simpsons of Cornhill, where a band of disgruntled shareholders are demanding an extraordinary general meeting.

The company is tiny, a typical USM stock, floated last year through Raphael Zorn Hemsley. But it, and the characters involved, are rather special. The chairman is Roy Ackermann, the man behind the Egon Ronay guides and godfather to half the new restaurants in London.

He is backed by Paul Reece and John Glover, who used to run Midsummer Leisure (you remember, all those pubs called the Frog and Whatsit).

The dissidents are led by Robert Klapp, former chairman of Select Appointments. He acquired a 20 per cent stake from city operator David Rowlands. .

The company takes its name from the well-known, value-for- money City chop house and also owns the nearby Jamaica Wine Bar and a trendy new eatery in Soho - Dell'Ugo, which is run by a brilliant but not famously thrifty chef, Anthony Worrall- Thompson.

According to the dissidents, he spent pounds 300,000 transforming the Braganza restaurant against a budget of a mere pounds 50,000, a claim that the board denies. Included in the list of other complaints are charges that Reece runs the company from Nottingham and that the company's directors pay themselves too much.

The row could run and run: although the dissidents probably have as much as 35-40 per cent of the shares, all could hang on the 40 per cent that is held by clients of the issuing broker.

Although Michael Rosenberg, Zorn's corporate finance director, claims the firm is solidly behind the board, dissidents (and other sceptics) say that could easily change.


Anthony Worrall-Thompson, who was mentioned in this column two weeks ago, points out he acted merely as a consultant in connection with the renovation of Braganza: any financial decisions were made by the Simpsons of Cornhill board.

(Photograph omitted)