Photo-Me boss in vote-you out threat

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The Independent Online

The chairman of Photo-Me International may be voted off the picture booth operator's board unless new non-executive directors are appointed.

The chairman of Photo-Me International may be voted off the picture booth operator's board unless new non-executive directors are appointed.

A leading institutional investor has threatened to vote against Dan David unless Photo-Me names a new deputy chairman by the time of this month's annual meeting. A Photo-Me spokesman said headhunters were looking for a suitable candidate but didn't rule out the possibility the post would still be vacant by the AGM. "It would be nice to announce a new deputy chairman at the AGM, but we have to get the right person."

"They need to find someone by the time of the AGM," said the investor. "That will be the last chance for a while for us to vote on Dan David's position."

The clamour for far-reaching reform of Photo-Me's board has been growing in intensity since January, when a shock profits warning saw its share price begin an apparently relentless slide from 4361/2p to this month's low of 811/2p. The share price was riding high after last year's deal with BT to provide internet access in its booths.

The simultaneous revelation of a number of related-party transactions also served to undermine confidence in the board.

The AGM could turn into a showdown between directors and other investors. But if there is a fight, the board will be well armed. Chief executive Serge Crasnianski is Photo-Me's biggest sharholder with 19.12 per cent, closely followed by Mr David with 18.19 per cent. Schroders has the most powerful external voice with 15.65 per cent.

The company has already met shareholders halfway with the resignation of managing director David Miller. It has pledged to find a new deputy chairman and a further non-executive director, but investors are concerned that, with the AGM looming, the search has so far proved fruitless. Mr Crasnianski has refused to comment on Mr David's position.

In the last fortnight, the shares have begun to recover thanks to news of an agreement to supply digital photo processors to Eastman Kodak. There has been speculation that the deal, whose value is estimated to be as much as £10bn, will help Photo-Me's adviser, Cazenove, to find high-quality executives to bolster its board.

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