Costain chaos as fists fly

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The Independent Online
Costain's second acrimonious extraordinary meeting in two weeks collapsed into chaos yesterday after Newbury by-pass protesters stormed the stage at London's Barbican Centre and engaged an estimated 80 blazered security guards in an angry fist fight.

Ignoring a barrage of noise from around 50 shareholder-campaigners, the beleagured construction company's new chairman, Azman Firdaus bin Shafii, guided the meeting through a resolution to approve the issue of new shares to Hendri Luhur, an Indonesian industrialist, and Kharafi, a Kuwaiti construction company that has become Costain's second-largest shareholder.

He also conducted a separate extraordinary meeting to discuss whether any actions should be taken to deal with the fact that Costain's net assets had fallen below 50 per cent of its called-up share capital, a breach of the Companies Act.

It was recommended that no further action was needed in addition to the recently announced sale of Costain's US coal mining assets and its one- third share in the Spitalfields development site in London.

As well as repeated calls for the company to clarify its environmental policies, Costain was criticised for employing security guards without numbers to identify the more "thuggish", and for the estimated pounds 360,000 pay-off due to Alan Lovell, who has resigned as chief executive but remains on the board until a successor is found.

One shareholder said: "Mr Lovell's pay-off is worth more than I have earned in my whole life. And I have never yet sunk a company through my incompetence."

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