Stobart directors hit out at former chief executive Tinkler
Directors at Stobart Group, owner of 45pc of Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus Regional in conjunction with the Irish airline, have criticised a fellow director who called for the ousting of the company's chairman.
Andrew Tinkler, a former chief executive of the group, said last week he was voting against Iain Ferguson's re-election as chairman. Now all other Stobart directors who are putting themselves forward for re-election have hit out at the move in a statement circulated yesterday.
The group of directors said it "deeply regrets that Mr Tinkler has destabilised the group at this crucial time for the business".
It said it had "been forced to address a number of challenges posed by Mr Tinkler in the recent past", including a proposed bonus for Mr Tinkler of shares then worth around £8m.
The group of directors, calling itself the 'Ongoing Board', said it no longer considered it possible to resolve these challenges through negotiation and discussion.
It added that Mr Tinkler was "no longer key to delivery of the current management's operational strategy".
"His focus, during the 50pc of his time which is committed to the Stobart Group, is on the non-operating divisions." Mr Tinkler was appointed around a year ago to lead a new entity called Stobart Capital, created by the company as an "dedicated value creation unit". In its statement yesterday Mr Tinkler's rivals said that this entity "has so far not generated any significant transactions for Stobart Group".
Mr Tinkler was Stobart boss from 2007 until he stood down last July. In his last full financial year in charge, the company swung to a pre-tax loss of £8m, compared to a pre-tax profit of £10m the year before. The directors' group has strongly backed Mr Ferguson as chairman.
CEO Warwick Brady said: "It's in the interest of the shareholders that we continue to have stable leadership across the business and the ability to deliver our ambitions." His growth strategy is focussed on the company's energy and aviation divisions, with disposals of non-core assets planned.
Mr Tinkler, issued a statement on Wednesday morning, stating that there is "a disagreement amongst Stobart Board Directors over the implementation of future strategy of the Stobart Group".
"My only objective is to ensure that the company sticks to the agreed company strategy and does not deviate from this, as this will deliver the best returns for shareholders. This strategy is best executed and underpinned by strong corporate governance standards.
"My view is that a change of chairman would help to achieve that objective, and I know that view is shared by a number of major shareholders."
He said he regretted that the chairman "has resorted to personal insult in this discussion".
"I warned the chairman and his supporters on the Board that the announcement issued today contains false and defamatory material about me, and information regarding the Company that I consider to be misleading."