One51 dissidents may turn to ODCE

DISSIDENT shareholders in the investment company One51 could ask the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) to investigate the company.

Last night a spokesman for the shareholder group said if today’s AGM in Dublin fails to allay their fears they will call for an EGM in order to get the answers they want. If that fails, the option of referring their concerns to the ODCE “will be considered”, the spokesman said.

That is the depth of bad feeling One51 boss Philip Lynch will face at the AGM. Shareholders, led by a former divisional director Gerry Killen, have tabled a list of 25 questions relating to company strategy, undisclosed salary payments of executive directors and the highly contentious payment of €4.96 million for a commercial patent.

That money was paid, it is understood, through a company called Chandela. The provenance of Chandela is also unclear and some stakeholders fear the company may be held outside the One51 corporate structure.

The dissidents will question Mr Lynch in depth at today’s AGM about that and other issues. “The question we are asking is how does the commercial value of non-patented IP (intellectual property) increase in value over a six-month period, to June 30, 2008, to €4.96m,” the spokesman said.

Other highly fractious matters involve the failure of the group to buy a waste management business to underpin the environmental division, which has recycling operations that need a waste management wing to support them. Without that support, the division is buying materials at high prices on the open market.

Critics of the Lynch regime are unhappy also that One51 has minority stakeholders in non-core assets, such as NTR, ICG and IFG. They want a timetable for these to be sold off and they want the strategic direction of the group to be nailed down.

It is anticipated One51 will announce a new brand name for the environmental wing of the operation but that will not resolve the issue for the dissidents.

Today’s standoff will be determined by the votes cast by the co-ops, owners of 53% of the company.

One51 is trying to downplay the extent of dissatisfaction, blaming a small number for the ill-feeling.

That number has grown and the decision by such a high-profile business figure as Alf Smiddy, the former boss of Beamish & Crawford in Cork, to go forward for election to the board at the request of the dissidents, is a measure of just how serious the standoff between the board and the shareholders has become.


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