The Prudential, the group's largest shareholder with a 9 per cent holding, and Lazard Freres, with 6 per cent, decided at a meeting at NM Rothschild, the merchant bank, last week to replace Mr Rooney as head of the troubled group. Mr Rooney, who founded the group, returns from holiday in Barbados this morning and intends to fight the bid to unseat him.
A replacement for Mr Rooney has not yet been agreed, although a number of candidates have been suggested.
The institutions' preferred choice would be Roy Barber, the company doctor who was brought in as a non-executive director two months ago. But he is reluctant to take on the role because he is fully occupied with sorting out Bimec, the environmental engineering group, where he is chairman.
Other names suggested are Roger Regan, chairman of Fine Art Wallcoverings, who could take over the chair, and Alan Bell, head of Spring Ram's kitchen business, who could step up to become chief executive until a permanent replacement is recruited.
Spring Ram's shares closed on Friday at 48.5p, just over a third of their 145p high for the year.Reuse content