Institutions question Chillington about AEP

INSTITUTIONAL shareholders in Anglo-Eastern Plantations, 49.2 per cent owned by Chillington Corporation, gave Chillington boardroom representatives a grilling about their future intentions towards the company at yesterday's annual meeting of AEP, writes Terence Wilkinson.

Concern among shareholders, led by Andrew Tulloch of Scottish American Investment Trust and backed by South Yorkshire Pensions Authority and Gartmore Pacific Strategy, was sparked by Chillington's move to oppose the re-election of Michael Nightingale, founder chairman of AEP.

In May 1989 Chillington took control of AEP, which has cocoa, oil palm and rubber plantation interests in Indonesia, with 52.2 per cent of its shares. The Stock Exchange ruled that AEP could keep a separate quotation as long as the balance of the board, including the chairman, remained independent.

Chillington recently indicated that its policy towards AEP would change. The independent AEP directors have approached the Stock Exchange to ask Chillington to spell out its policy.

Challenged at the annual meeting, Chillington representatives were unable to enlighten AEP's main shareholders, who stumped up for a pounds 1.2m rights issue last November, about their intentions.