Shareholders say no to Sugar

PRIVATE shareholders in Amstrad yesterday demanded that the company split the role of chairman and managing director.

Their move followed the rejection of a proposed pounds 113m buyout of the consumer electronics company by Alan Sugar, who holds both posts.

Although shareholders yesterday welcomed the failure of his offer, they are stepping up a campaign to split the two roles.

Gerard Lakemaker, a private shareholder, yesterday revealed that he was lobbying institutional shareholders on the issue.

He said: 'It is all very well to reject Mr Sugar's proposal on high moral grounds. We now want to be constructive and I feel strongly that the roles of chairman and managing director be split.'

His comments came as the company announced that proxies sent for today's court meeting showed that almost 60 per cent of shareholders voted against the offer. Amstrad has 31,500 shareholders of which 7,827 proxies were against, compared with 5,259 for the terms. In addition, 50.7 per cent of shares were voted against, and 49.3 per cent in favour.

Proxies sent for the shareholders' meeting also signalled defeat as the number of shares voted against was similar. Mr Sugar required a 75 per cent majority for the offer to succeed.

A spokesman said: 'It is technically possible to win but practically impossible. We can assume that the offer won't be accepted.'

He confirmed that Mr Sugar would continue to run Amstrad and that he had no immediate plans to dispose of his 35 per cent stake.

'As chairman he has discharged his duty to shareholders. He is not going to rush out flogging his shares.'

Amstrad shares fell 1p to 24p.