IP wants Holvis board to quit

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The Independent Online

International Paper, the US paper giant fighting for control of the Swiss paper group Holvis, yesterday called for the resignation of the entire Holvis board.

IP will go to court on Monday alleging the lock-up deal between Holvis and the UK engineering group BBA for Fiberweb is illegal.

As a 25 per cent shareholder in Holvis, IP has also formalised its request for an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the matter. However this is unlikely to take place before July, by which time the BBA offer will already have been considered. Only the court can bring the date of the meeting forward.

Analysts predict that if IP does win an injunction the deal could be bogged down in legal proceedings for up to three years.

IP, which already owns 25 per cent of Holvis, wants the Holvis board replaced with five members of its own choice. A new board would have no powers to change an agreement already ruled as legally binding.

A spokesman for IP said the company was now convinced that the Fiberweb lock-out deal, tied up by BBA's chairman Bob Quarta, was illegal even though the Swiss bourse ruled last week that BBA's bid met the Swiss takeover code requirements. It has written to the board of Holvis requesting full disclosure of all agreements and arrangements between it and BBA.