Duker sells BDA option

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BRIAN DUKER, who is under pressure from non-executive directors and a majority of shareholders to resign as chief executive of BDA, has sold an option over his 24 per cent stake in the property and investment company.

The option has been granted to Ayton Holdings and may be exercised today for a minimum pounds 900,000. That would equate to 20.6p a share against BDA's closing price yesterday of 25.5p, down 0.5p.

Mr Duker, who founded BDA 21 years ago, declined to give details about Ayton, other than saying it was a private foreign-owned company with some property interests in the UK.

'The question is, are they friendly or unfriendly? And I'll pass on that one,' Mr Duker said.

One property observer's interpretation was that Ayton might want to reverse into BDA to obtain a quotation on the stock market.

Nigel Jamieson, one of the two non-executives calling for Mr Duker's resignation, was surprised by the Ayton deal. 'I have no comment to make,' he said.

Mr Jamieson and Richard Wollenberg, the other rebel non- executive, are due to attend a BDA board meeting on Thursday to set the date for an extraordinary shareholders' meeting. Mr Wollenberg was on holiday yesterday and unavailable for comment.

The two directors are backed by holders of 51.3 per cent of BDA's shares, including PosTel, Fidelity, Barings and Gartmore.

Mr Duker said he was approached by Ayton last week, a few days after the dissidents formally called on the company to hold a shareholders' meeting. He has not talked with institutional shareholders since then. 'I still do not know the reasons why they have requisitioned the meeting.'

He said he was standing firm against the resignation call. 'People other than Wollenberg and Jamieson think I'm more important to the company than they do.'