The Plumber springs a leak over Oystertec 'idiot' Monro

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The Independent Online

An almighty row was brewing at Oystertec yesterday as the group's founder and major shareholder, Paul Davidson, sold most of his 14 per cent holding in the pipe fitter and branded its recently appointed chairman and chief executive Angus Monro "an idiot".

Mr Davidson sold just under 30 million shares in the company, which he founded three years ago to bag £6.2m. Explaining his decision to sell, Mr Davidson said that the company's current management was destroying the group and placed the blame firmly on Mr Monro, the former Matalan boss who is now at Oystertec's helm. "Oystertec is a great company, but is currently run by an idiot," he said.

Mr Davidson, known in the City as 'The Plumber', stressed that he had taken the company and turned it from one of the smallest pipe fitters in Europe into one of the biggest. It recently completed the £12m takeover of fellow engineer Europower. In October of last year Oystertec raised £27m via the stock market for the acquisition of distributor International Building Products from Delta, the industrial services company. The latest set of figures from Oystertec showed a loss of £11m in the year to 31 December. Mr Davidson said he believes the company he set up can one day be profitable but not with Mr Monro at its helm. Since their peak of 63.5p last August, the group's shares have been on a downward trajectory. Yesterday, they closed down 4p at 25.5p. Mr Monro took over as chief executive on 1 September.

When asked what Oystertec shareholders should now do, Mr Davidson was adamant. "They should lobby to have Angus removed from his post and replaced by me. This company needs to be run by a dedicated executive who knows what he is doing."

Mr Monro was unavailable for comment yesterday as he was on holiday. Neither were any of his fellow Oystertec directors who were all abroad.

Oystertec was founded three years ago and floated on the Alternative Investment Market last year. Mr Davidson has recently attracted some controversy. Investors in Cyprotex are reported to be demanding an FSA investigation into a spread bet placed by Mr Davidson prior to the group's float earlier this year. Some in the City yesterday suggested that Mr Davidson had been forced to sell his Oystertec shares to cover losses relating to the bet. This he denied and said he was in no need of cash.