Simpsons ready for rebel shareholders

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THE BOARD of Simpsons of Cornhill, the restaurants group, is poised to repel a challenge from dissident shareholders at an extraordinary meeting this morning.

But a spokesman for Robert Klapp, the former chairman of Select Appointments who is leading the rebellion, said the group would force a further meeting at which they would try to oust the entire board.

Paul Reece, Simpsons' managing director, said the board had the support of 54 per cent of the voting shares in proxies.

Mr Klapp's spokesman said he expected the rebel group to muster 40 per cent in an attempt to elect two new directors - Mr Klapp and David Offenbach. He claimed that many of Simpsons' proxies were from investors who had sold their shares but were still on the register.

Mr Klapp owned 20 per cent of the company, but sold half to Mountjoy, a vehicle believed to be controlled by Far Eastern investors. His spokesman claimed Mountjoy did not support the board.

The dissidents complain of cost overruns and escalating directors' fees, and are unhappy that the group, comprising Simpsons itself and two other London restaurants, is run from Nottingham. They also claim that a rebel director, Alan Crompton-Batt, has been denied access to information.

Mr Reece said the dissidents had failed to make any communication to shareholders, and that the other directors would seek to remove Mr Crompton-Batt from the board.

Simpsons, which was floated on the Unlisted Securities Market a year ago at 50p, is chaired by Roy Ackerman, the restaurateur. The shares closed at 39p.

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