Director's resignation pushes Redland break-up closer

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A break-up of Redland, the building materials group defending itself against a pounds 1.7bn hostile bid from French rival Lafarge, came a step closer yesterday with the resignation of Helly Bruhn-Brass, a Redland non-executive director and key shareholder in RBB, Redland's German roof tiles business.

Ms Bruhn-Braas is understood to have resigned over issues of conflict after Redland said last week it was negotiating to sell its 56.5 per cent stake to the Braas family. Ms Bruhn-Brass, the daughter of the founder of the Braas roofing business, speaks for 31.5 per cent of the Braas family's 43.5 per cent stake in RBB. Her resignation from Redland's board would clear the way for a management buy-out of RBB by its minority shareholders.

Rudolph Agnew, Redland's non-executive chairman, said he had not sought Ms Bruhn-Braas' resignation, but she had probably been advised by her brokers, Lehman Brothers, to resign over possible conflicts of responsibility. "It is her decision. But the fact that we have disclosed that we are in discussions with the Braas family had made it awkward for her. She would have found it hard to stay on," he said.

Mr Agnew would not comment on whether talks with the Braas family over RBB had progressed or on the stage of talks with other companies to buy Redland's aggregates companies: "We are still examining all the options. We are still in talks with a variety of people."

A spokesman for Redland said nothing was imminent. "When we have completed talks we need to come up with an optimal structure to present an alternative to our shareholders to Lafarge's bid."

Redland's share price closed 4.5p down at 329.5p amid hefty selling but still above Lafarge's 320p cash offer.