Ewart fends off attempted coup

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The Independent Online
THE MANAGEMENT of Ewart, the Northern Irish property group, narrowly fended off an attempt by its largest shareholder to take control of the company's board at an extraordinary meeting in Belfast yesterday.

Of the 96 per cent of the company's voting shares represented at the meeting, 52.8 per cent rejected the proposals to appoint two new directors and remove four others.

The proposals were put forward by Phil Monahan, chairman of the Dublin-based Monarch Properties. Mr Monahan is a non-executive director of Ewart and has a 29.2 per cent stake in the company.

After the meeting, Mr Monahan said he would seek additional board representation because there was only one non-executive director representing those who supported him.

Barry Gilligan, Ewart's managing director, said: 'Why should we bring another dissident director on to the board? He tried to elect new directors today to change the strategy of the company and the shareholders emphatically rejected that.'

Mr Gilligan said the result was always going to be close because Mr Monahan and his associates had stakes totalling about 40 per cent behind them when they called the meeting.

He said that all of Ewart's institutional shareholders had supported the management against Mr Monahan's proposals.

'Phil Monahan told us the result was a foregone conclusion when he launched his campaign on 17 July. He has threatened over the past year to call this egm if we didn't go along with his plans. He doesn't have that weapon now, because the shareholders have spoken,' he said.

Mr Gilligan said that the company had offered to place Mr Monahan's shares, but would attempt to work with him if he remained. Mr Monahan said he had no plans to sell his stake.