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Spring Ram investors may move to unseat Rooney

INSTITUTIONAL investors in Spring Ram, the kitchens and bathrooms maker, may call an extraordinary shareholder meeting to unseat Bill Rooney, the group's founder chairman, writes Robert Cole.

One large shareholder said yesterday that it was considering the move after negotiations with Mr Rooney broke down.

Mr Rooney has offered to step aside as chairman of the company in favour of a non-executive candidate. But he wants to stay as chief executive. He has also presented shareholders with a new business plan. But shareholders suspect he is prepared to make only superficial changes.

Mr Rooney has been under pressure to resign following a string of profit warnings. However, he is refusing to step down voluntarily.

Spring Ram shares have dived from 180p a year ago to trade at around 50p in recent weeks.

The company has issued three profit warnings in the past nine months. The last one came just a month after Mr Rooney gave an upbeat message to shareholders at the Spring Ram annual general meeting.

Last week the board said it was backing the continued involvement of Mr Rooney. At the same time it said it 'recognises and accepts the need for immediate and major changes in the structure, style and management of the company'.

Institutions, speaking for as much as 35 per cent of the company's shares, are known to be unhappy about management at the company.

They believe that last week's statement of support for Mr Rooney published alongside the promise to make fundamental changes is contradictory. They see Mr Rooney as the embodiment of the way Spring Ram has been run. If strategy changes, they argue, so must the leadership.