A group of institutional shareholders led by Prudential ousted the long-serving chief executive of Planestation, the airport developer previously known as Wiggins Group, last night in a move which paves the way for the break-up of the company.
Following an emergency board meeting, Planestation said Oliver Iny, who had been chief executive since 1993, ceased to hold any executive responsibility "with immediate effect", adding that "steps are being taken to terminate his appointment". He has been replaced, on a temporary basis, by thechairman, Richard Bernays.
The moves follow a campaign by Prudential and two Swiss funds, who between them own 22 per cent of Planestation, to remove Mr Iny, install the former MEPC property company executive Robert Ware as chairman and then orchestrate a break-up of the business. There is also speculation that Mr Ware could make a £200m bid for the group at a rumoured price of 10p a share.
The action by the three shareholders comes six weeks after they backed a £46m refinancing of the company, which saw it change its name and pledge to sell off non-core assets. Its main asset is Manston airport, now renamed Kent International Airport.
Mr Iny had been promoting a rival plan to bring in Stephen Davidson, the former chief executive of the cable company Telewest, as chairman to replace Mr Bernays who said at the time of the refinancing that he intended to step down.
Mr Iny promoted a number of grandiose schemes, none of which saw the light of day. These included a super dog track in east London, a racetrack in Essex and the construction of Europe's tallest building on the site of the former Liverpool garden festival in Speke.
His ousting came a week after he succeeded in landing his first big customer for Manston. Eujet, headed by the former Ryanair chief executive, PJ McGoldrick, is to fly 27 routes from the airport with the aim of carrying 300,000 passenger in its first year.
Mr Iny, who owns 14 million options in Planestation, said: "I am greatly saddened at being prevented from guiding Planestation through its property disposal and developing the business in accordance with the vision I set out in the prospectus signed up to by every member of the board."
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