Redrow director feels wrath of shareholders over failed move


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The Independent Online

The housebuilder Redrow faced embarrassment yesterday as a senior director bore the brunt of shareholder wrath over founder and chairman Steve Morgan's failed £562m attempt to take the company private.

The company's senior independent director, Alan Jackson, saw a 24 per cent vote against his reappointment at the company's annual meeting in Wales, amid concerns over a perceived failure to look after the interests of smaller investors. Redrow said Mr Jackson "has the full support of the board".

Mr Morgan, the Wolverhampton Wanderers owner who holds 40 per cent of the shares, launched the £562m proposal in combination with hedge fund Toscafund, a 14 per cent shareholder, in August.

He withdrew on the eve of a Takeover Panel deadline in October amid protests led by fund manager Fidelity, which owns 10 per cent. Mr Morgan offered 152p a share for the business although Fidelity pushed for a much higher 220p-a-share deal, claiming that the huge combined stake held by the founder and Toscafund meant a rival bid was unlikely to emerge.

The meeting came as Mr Morgan said he was focused on driving the business forward "to create value for all investors". The firm is seeing "challenging but stable" market conditions, as well as selling homes from more sites, leaving sales 22 per cent ahead of the same time last year. He praised Government initiatives such as NewBuy and FirstBuy, helping ease conditions in the mortgage market as well as bolster the shortfall in deposits now demanded from first-time buyers by some lenders.

Rivals Taylor Wimpey and Bovis Homes reported similar sluggish conditions, as the sector fattens profit margins by building on land bought more cheaply since the downturn struck rather than a massive surge in housebuilding volumes.

But the full benefit of the Bank of England's Funding for Lending scheme has yet to be felt in the mortgage market. Bovis chief executive David Ritchie said: "Have we seen a significant impact so far through our order book? Not quite yet. It will take through to the end of the year to see a tangible trend."