Small talk: Dawson faces a fiery investors' meeting

Who would have thought that cashmere jumpers and bed linen could cause such hostility?

Dawson International, the Aim-listed producer of both – with a market capitalisation of a touch over £6m – has seen its share price rocket by more than 83 per cent in the past year. Such strong performance comes after several heavily indebted years of woe, which the current management team claim the responsibility for turning around.

It might come as a surprise, therefore, that the group's biggest shareholder, textile processing and fabric printing outfit Leeds Group, is seeking to remove Dawson's chairman Mike Hartley.

Mr Hartley accuses Leeds Group, which owns a 28.8 per cent stake in Dawson, of trying to gain ownership through the back door. It would be bad for other shareholders, he says, to allow a Leeds' nominated non-executive director to take over as interim chairman when Mr Hartley retires – a move he has already tried to take but decided to postpone. A new potential chairman was approached, but Leeds Group objected, leading to Mr Hartley's decision to stay on for now.

Leeds Group, for its part, is seeking the removal of Mr Hartley at Dawson's AGM in May. One of the group's non-executive directors, Peter Gyllenhammer, who is also a private shareholder and who refers to Mr Hartley by his surname, says that the accusation that Leeds wants to take control of Dawson is "complete and utter nonsense".

Mr Gyllenhammer's main beef is costs, which he says have spiralled as a result of excessive executive pay despite no dividends for to shareholders and employees in Scotland being laid off. Mr Hartley counters that the costs are legacy costs and the money is not going into management pockets.

A ringside seat at the AGM on 8 May promises much entertainment.


There are plenty of companies on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) that are struggling as investors increasingly turn their backs on the small-cap sector.

There are exceptions of course, and for the right company in the right sector attracting investment should still be easy. Take, for example Ashley House, which announced last week that it has raised £2.275m in a share placing with Invesco Perpetual, which will become the group's fourth-biggest shareholder after buying 3.5 million shares at 65p each.

It not difficult to see why investors are happy to throw in their lot with a company like Ashley House. The group works with primary care trusts to identify new sites for specialist health centres, doctors' surgeries and the like. It then forms joint ventures, known as Local Improvement Finance Trusts, or Lifts, and manages the planning permission, construction and subsequent running of the building. Since the inception of the Lift in 2001, some 220 new buildings have been put up worth a total of £1.5bn – largely paid for out of public funds.


It would seem that not everybody is feeling the strain of the recession. Aim-listed Gas Turbine Efficiency (GTE) is set to announce its full-year results today and while most groups' numbers are met with groans from investors and spinning from press spokespeople, GTE is expected to buck the trend.

There has been no word from the company since the January trading update, predicting that 2008 full-year revenue could be up by as much as 96 per cent – not only impressive in its own right, but a cut above most analysts' expectations.

With a little further investigation it is easy to see why GTE is in clover. The company provides the technology that cleans and improves the performance of industrial turbines, which not only helps to boost efficiency but is also better for the environment, the group claims.

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