Trimoco finds an unlikely champion

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The Independent Online
JOHN LAMPITT, the shareholder who recently lambasted the board of Trimoco at the annual meeting, has spoken out in favour of the company as it tries to fight off the hostile pounds 21m takeover bid from Hartwell, a rival car dealer.

Speaking from his home in Switzerland, Mr Lampitt said: 'I think it (the offer) is not high enough. I do think Trimoco has good recovery potential.

'It has been a very bad time, but it can't go on like this for ever. Cars do wear out and have to be replaced. I will not accept this offer for my 750,000 shares.'

Earlier this week, Trimoco forecast pounds 1.2m profits before tax in the six months to the end of next month, against losses of pounds 250,000 in the comparable period.

Mr Lampitt, who owns the Blue Boar chain of petrol stations, used the annual meeting to challenge the re-election of two non-executive directors from Hartwell - John Wei and Mahmoud Abdulla.

'I opposed their re-election because I thought there was a conflict of interest. I think an error occurred,' Mr Lampitt said. His challenge at the annual meeting was defeated on a vote.

Mr Wei, chairman and chief executive of Hartwell, which is controlled by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia, and Mr Abdullah resigned from Trimoco's board when the bid was launched on 4 August.

Trimoco has contacted Mr Lampitt since the 17.5p-per-share bid was made, admitting that it had probably made a mistake by having Hartwell representatives on the board.

Roger Smith, chief executive, said Mr Lampitt had told him: 'I think you have been desperately let down.'

Shares in Trimoco, which was demerged out of Tricentrol in 1981, closed unchanged at 18.5p yesterday.

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