Shareholders try to ‘control’ board

MANAGEMENT at British pub and restaurant owner, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is preparing a submission to the British Panel on Takeovers and Mergers regarding what it sees as an attempt by some of the group’s largest shareholders to force control of its board.

M&B – which was the subject of two failed takeover attempts last year – owns a number of high-profile hospitality brands including All Bar One, the Irish-themed O’Neill’s and the Harvester family restaurant chain. Among its significant shareholders are British financier, Joe Lewis and Irish horseracing duo John Magnier and JP McManus.

Yesterday the pubs group said the majority of its board noted recent press speculation regarding the “increasingly difficult relationship” between the board and “a small number of its largest shareholders”.

The statement went on to mention Piedmont – the investment vehicle of Mr Lewis and a 22.3% shareholder in M&B – but made no mention of any other shareholder by name.

A spokesperson confirmed that Mr Magnier and Mr McManus, with a combined 17.5% stake through their Elpida investment vehicle, qualify as M&B’s second largest shareholder.

M&B’s statement detailed a disagreement with the candidates put forward to succeed outgoing chairman, Drummond Hall and requested for the resignation of senior independent director, Simon Laffin.

Shareholders have warned if Mr Laffin didn’t resign, they would vote against his election at the annual general meeting.

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