Stanford urges Panel inquiry into mystery Redbus bidder

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The Independent Online

The shareholder battle that has been raging at Redbus Interhouse took another dramatic twist yesterday as it emerged that a mystery investor had bought an 8 per cent stake in the internet hotel business.

The company said last night that Sputnik Group had bought up 12.5 million shares in Redbus. It did not reveal precisely when the stake was bought.

Cliff Stanford, the company's founder who last week lost a crucial vote to unseat management, is thought to have again urged the Takeover Panel to investigate dealings in the company's shares.

He is thought to have written to the Panel, suggesting that Sputnik Group is in concert with other Redbus shareholders who voted in favour of keeping existing management at last week's extraordinary general meeting.

At that EGM, around 61 million votes were cast in favour of installing Mr Stanford and his team, while about 67 million were cast in favour of keeping the current board of directors.

It was the second time that Mr Stanford had tried to gain control of the company and lost the battle.

At the heart of the problem is a deep-rooted rift between two sets of shareholders.

One camp is headed by Mr Stanford, the founder of Demon Internet who has a 29.9 per cent stake holding in Redbus.

On the other side is John Porter, Redbus's former boss who resigned in March.

He is the son of the disgraced former Tory leader of Westminster Council Dame Shirley Porter.

It is thought that Mr Stanford is considering selling his shares in the company, possibly to one of the company's non-executive directors, Bo Bendtsen.