The activist investor Peter Gyllenhammar is preparing to overhaul Mallett, the 148-year-old London antiques dealer.
The Swedish entrepreneur, who holds a 26.2 per cent stake in the company, has called for an extraordinary general meeting to be held to decide whether or not he can join its board. Mallett has so far refused to do this, and advised investors to reject the motion when the meeting is held over the next few weeks.
Mr Gyllenhammar told The Independent that he will launch a strategic review of Mallett if he joins the board to improve its financial performance.
Despite its good reputation, Mallett, whose shares have fallen by 14 per cent over the past 12 months, is forecast to make a £400,000 loss this year. It does not currently pay a dividend.
"With its superb reputation, skills and infrastructure, there is substantial potential for Mallett to grow in the $46bn arts and antiques market," Mr Gyllenhammar said.
"In order for the company to capture some of its potential, I strongly believe that its drive must come from directors who represent true ownership of the company – not just well-paid non-executives with no real risk.
"Such ownership drive is what builds small companies to being bigger and more profitable. The ownerless model was tried in the Soviet Union for many decades, and we all know how that worked out."
Mr Gyllenhammar has an impressive record, and has generated good returns investing in companies such as Cape and 21st Century.
In response, Mallett said: "The board believes the proposed resolutions are not in the best interests of the company."