Wembley to get new chairman

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The Independent Online
Sir Brian Wolfson is prepared to bow to shareholder pressure and stand down as chairman of Wembley, the beleaguered leisure group that owns the national football stadium, the company confirmed last night. He islikely to remain with the group as deputy chairman.

Wembley yesterday gave a taste of what might come in reaction to weekend press reports. Yesterday's announcement came after the stock market had closed, and had no impact on the share price which languishes at 5.5p and values Wembley at just £14m.

The company also owns dog tracks in the US, the Wembley Arena and the Wembley Conference Centre.

The boardroom shuffle, which would also see Claes Hultman of Eurotherm International become non-executive chairman, is planned to coincide with a refinancing of Wembley's £120m of debts on which it cannot afford to pay the interest charges.

Pressure for the changes has mainly come from Sir Ron Brierley's Guinness Peat Group, which has 25 per cent of Wembley's preference shares and which would have a powerful voice in any refinancing involving a debt-for-equity swap.

Wembley hopes to clear its debts soon after results for 1994 are known in the middle of next month. The financial picture is expected to show an improvement on 1993 when the company lost £65.7m before tax - almost twice the losses of the previous year.

The pending board changes are also likely to see the departure of Sir Peter Thompson, non-executive deputy chairman.