Baltimore set for investor showdown

Baltimore Technologies, the former dotcom darling, launched its defence against a rebel shareholder who has rejected its new strategy and wants to oust the board.

Baltimore Technologies, the former dotcom darling, launched its defence against a rebel shareholder who has rejected its new strategy and wants to oust the board.

The company has set the date for a showdown with Bermudan-based Acquisitor Holdings at an extraordinary meeting on 6 May. The former FTSE 100 company, once a star of the technology boom, is now a cash shell worth just £22m. It said last month it intended to reinvent itself as a service provider that would help businesses cut their energy bills.

But Acquisitor wants a return from a £24.7m cash pile Baltimore has held since selling its trading operations. Acquisitor has dismissed the new strategy and is calling for the removal of the entire board.

Baltimore yesterday hit back, urging shareholders to support the board. "Why, for an investment of about £3m, should Acquisitor obtain control of your company's cash of £24m? Acquisitor wants to remove your experienced board and control the company's cash without revealing what it plans to do with it. You do not deserve to have all of this taken away from you," Bijan Khezri, the chairman of Baltimore, said.

The shareholder circular published yesterday showed that Mr Khezri received £310,000 as compensation for moving to become chairman and giving up his executive rights. He also received £150,000 bonus last year for disposing of Baltimore's operating divisions on top of his base salary of £150,000.

David Weaver, who was appointed chief executive, told shareholders he had "no golden parachute" and if shareholders back Acquisitor, Baltimore will owe him nothing. "Acquisitor's dogged focus on Baltimore's past... demonstrates that its only concern is to gain control of the company's cash and not to further interests of the shareholders," he said.

Baltimore wants Acquisitor to explain why it has bought more shares in the company since criticising its strategy.

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