M&B chairman ousted as rebels defeat board

All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) conceded defeat today after a bitter battle with rebel shareholders claimed the scalp of its chairman.

Pub group M&B will now undergo a complete board overhaul after Joe Lewis - the billionaire who owns 22.8 per cent of the firm through his Piedmont investment vehicle - succeeded in ousting most of the firm's existing leadership.

Chairman Simon Laffin is one of three board members to have been removed after hostile investors voted against him at a tense shareholder meeting in Birmingham today.

A statement from the outgoing directors said the board had taken a "principled stance" in opposing Piedmont.

They added: "We would like to thank all of the many thousands of shareholders, large and small, who have supported the Board's position.

"We wish the new board well and trust that it will be allowed to continue the work already in hand to strengthen further this great business."



Voting figures showed 66 per cent of votes cast were made against Mr Laffin's re-election.

The results came despite support from institutional shareholders such as Standard Life, which owns a 4.8 per cent stake in the company and spoke out to back M&B's board.

A representative told the meeting the investor was "dismayed by the approach taken by Piedmont".

"Whilst we respect its rights as a shareholder, we are far from convinced that a total overhaul of the board would be in the best interests of the company," he said.

He said the firm did have "room for improvement", but stressed the view that no individual or group of investors should be in a position to dominate or control the board's decision-making.

M&B's ousted board members were also concerned that Mr Lewis's intentions were not in the interests of all investors.

However, the new board said it would stand for election at the next annual general meeting and would "stand down if we do not command support from a majority of shareholders, excluding Piedmont".

New chairman John Lovering said: "The board will put recent history behind us and move forward committed to the interests of all shareholders.

"We will conduct a thorough review of the business which will be presented to all shareholders by the end of March."

Piedmont and Elpida had been furious about £500 million in losses suffered by M&B after a disastrous wrong-way bet on interest rates when a property deal was abandoned due to the credit crunch in 2007.

Mr Laffin, who joined the board last January, expressed regret over the deal and told today's meeting the board was now "substantially different".

But the Elpida representative said: "Most of the non-executive directors sitting on the podium today were on the board throughout this episode and are still being paid by the company."

He said the losses amounted to more than £1 for every share in the company and questioned whether "adequate steps" had been taken to recoup costs from those involved.

Elpida also dismissed suggestions it was working with Mr Lewis as "utter rubbish".

The representative said allegations of a "conspiracy" against the company originated because some directors were "afraid of losing their jobs".

The latest tussle began with the appointment of Mr Laffin as chairman last year, against the will of Piedmont.

M&B also removed four directors because it believed they were not independent and acting in the interests of all shareholders.

Piedmont has now succeeded in installing four new directors - Debenhams chairman Mr Lovering, Fitness First founder Michael Balfour, Jeremy Blood, who was managing director at pub company Scottish & Newcastle, and Simon Burke, who has senior experience with retailers including Hamleys.

It also won the vote to remove former chairman and independent director Drummond Hall.

M&B, which has 2,000 pubs, supported the appointment of Mr Lovering and Mr Burke, but had advised shareholders to vote against the other nominees.



The Association of British Insurers (ABI) - whose members are institutional investors and control around 15% of the UK stock market - said members were "extremely uncomfortable" with the events at M&B.

Peter Montagnon, ABI director of investment affairs, said: "Our members accept the result, but they remain extremely uncomfortable with the process which has enabled a minority shareholder to determine the composition of the board without paying a premium for control.

"There are important issues of principle here which we will analyse carefully and may take up with the relevant authorities."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS)

£20000 - £30000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition