Redland plans board shake-up to repel Lafarge's pounds 1.7bn hostile bid

Most of Redland's board is about to depart as the company desperately attempts to stave off a pounds 1.7bn hostile bid from its French rival Lafarge.

The group has already confirmed that Robert Napier, the group's chief executive who has presided over its dire share price performance in recent years, will step down with a payoff of pounds 700,000.

However yesterday it emerged that he is likely to be joined by several other high-profile casualties, including Paul Hewitt, the group's finance director. Analysts said the clear-out could be put down to Redland's management paying the penalty for the group's poor performance.

The current 13-strong board is likely to be reduced to just two or three members. Rudolph Agnew, Redland's chairman and a veteran of many a takeover battle, will head up the new board and preside over the group's break- up.

The troubled British building group is expected to announce tomorrow the sale of a 56.5 per cent stake in RBB, its European roof tiles subsidiary, to German family shareholders for pounds 800m in its final defence document.

It will then become a UK and US aggregates business and a roof tiles business in Asia. Mr Agnew's task will be to convince shareholders that he can realise more value for shareholders than the 320p-a-share cash offer Lafarge has put on the table.

He is in talks with rivals about selling some of the aggregates businesses to return more cash to shareholders.

The outcome of these talks is likely to be vital for the group's defence. Redland is facing increasing pressure from institutional shareholders to tie up a quick sale of some or all of these businesses.

One large Redland shareholder said yesterday: "Selling RBB is not enough. Redland will have to secure the sale of aggregates businesses to fight off the Lafarge bid.

"If it doesn't, the cash offer begins to look attractive."