Chai Patel abandons Care First challenge

Chai Patel yesterday abandoned his attempt to be reinstated as chief executive of Care First, the embattled nursing home group. He said only around 15 per cent of shareholders were prepared to approach SBC Warburg, Care First's advisors, to call an egm to vote on reinstating Mr Patel and ousting Keith Bradshaw, the group's chairman.

Mr Patel quit the company last month after a power struggle with Mr Bradshaw. Mr Patel, who is now preparing to resign his non-executive directorship said: "We can take no more action. Everyone is disappointed, but the institutions felt that the price of going public on this was too high."

Andrew Crossley at Invesco, one of the shareholders leading the call to remove Mr Bradshaw, said: "In an ideal world, Keith Bradshaw would not be chairman. But in the end there was not sufficient appetite for a public punch-up. Fund managers felt the benefits of getting him out would be outweighed by a public scrap. We see no point in pushing the issue. We look forward to the recruitment of a new and strong chief executive." Another shareholder said: "I haven't spoken to anyone who thinks Bradshaw should stay. I am sure there will be lobbying behind closed doors, but no one was prepared to go public on it. But this is not the first time that shareholders have crumbled when it came to the crunch."

Paul Saper at Laing & Buisson said: ``Shareholders had a chance to turn around their investment. The company will now find it very difficult to solve its problems. I would not be surprised if staff start leaving."

Care First is expected to release a statement today about events of the last week.