New investor emerges as rebels take on Seafield

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SEAFIELD, the transport and distribution company whose board faces a challenge from dissident investors at an extraordinary meeting on Friday, said an unknown stakeholder had appeared on the shareholders register late last week.

Just over 1 per cent of Seafield's shares were bought by Greatall, a privately owned property company based in north London.

Greatall had turnover of pounds 10,000 in the financial year to 31 December 1992 and made a loss of pounds 7,624 before tax, according to its last filed report and accounts.

A stake of this size - worth about pounds 110,000 - could hold sway in deciding the board's future. The investors hoping to unseat Brian Chilver, Seafield's chairman, and another director claim to speak for a quarter of the votes.

Since the company has about 2,000 small investors, many of whom are unlikely to vote, the battle will be close.

Both sides in the wrangle have recently made presentations to institutional shareholders, which include Irish Life, Standard Life and the British Airways pension fund.

At the weekend Robert Cosby and Tony Wilson, the challengers, sent a final circular to other shareholders summarising their case against the incumbents. They pointed to the fall in Seafield's operating profits during the past four years and its 'disastrous' acquisitions record under the current management.

Mr Chilver said: 'It is hardly a surprise that a cyclical business sees its profits fall during a recession.'

He added: 'This letter adds nothing to the debate and only highlights their lack of strategy.'