Tuesday 28 March 2017

McManus and Magnier push for changes at UK pub group

IRISH millionaires JP McManus and John Magnier will support proposals by London billionaire Joe Lewis to replace the board at English pub company Mitchells & Butlers at the company's annual general meeting today.

The agm is the latest stage in an increasingly bitter dispute. McManus and Magnier's Elpida Group Ltd, the second largest shareholder in Mitchells & Butlers with a 17.6pc stake, has "no confidence" in Simon Laffin as chairman, according to a letter delivered late yesterday to the company's board.

Elpida will vote alongside Mr Lewis, the UK billionaire who holds a 22.8pc stake, at the agm. It says Mr Laffin should not chair the meeting in Birmingham. Mitchells & Butlers, owner of the All Bar One chain, had complained to the UK Takeover Panel over the "increasingly difficult relationship" between its board and some of its largest investors. The panel ruled that no agreement or understanding was reached between shareholders.

Elpida has never acted "in concert" with Joe Lewis, it said in the letter. The new independent directors being proposed "are very experienced and will ensure that the business is focused on driving operational outperformance", Elpida added.

Both Mitchells & Butlers and Piedmont have rejected separate proposals to resolve the dispute. Piedmont said Laffin "orchestrated a relentless, baseless, yet highly damaging campaign." (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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