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Big-hitters roll up for corporate row that shows no sign of abating

It's been billed as a good-old fashioned corporate row - with allegations surrounding corporate governance, high remuneration for executives, concerns from some of the biggest investors about the company's strategy and audible signs of shareholder dissent.

But while directors received a less than welcoming reception yesterday, there were no loud outbursts and hardly any finger-wagging from the floor. The intrigue was in the mix of players involved. As well as the tea-supping pensioners who shared biscuits while digesting the company's financial accounts, the AGM also played host to some of the movers and shakers of the stockbroking world, including Goodbody's head of corporate finance Brian O'Kelly, Investec's Liam Booth, Davy's Ivan Murphy and Key Capital's Conor Killeen.

The involvement of One51 adds another element of intrigue. Beef baron Larry Goodman, former Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton and ex-Bank of Ireland head Mike Soden were among the high rollers that had invested in the buyout group, which has suffered its own troubles, although things are on the up under chief executive Alan Walsh.

In a statement yesterday that smacked of exasperation, One51 claimed it had suffered a cumulative impairment loss of some €260m on its investment with NTR since 2007.

One51's argument is that NTR needs to get on with selling its US wind assets as the market's ripe for it. It's also opposed to plans to invest up to a third of a target €150m equity in a new European wind strategy. Pageant also has issues with corporate governance and executive remuneration.

The company's chief executive, Rosheen McGuckian, has expressed her own frustration - claiming the board has been acting on behalf of all shareholders, and said the accusations levelled had been unfair, including on a personal level. The row shows little sign of abating.

Irish Independent