John Menzies shake-up urged by German investor

 
Oliver Gill
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John Menzies has aviation contracts at some of the world's largest airports (Source: Getty)

John Menzies, the distribution and aviation services company faced fresh calls today for change from an activist investor after it upped its stake in the troubled company.

Shareholder Value Management (SVM) has built up a seven per cent share holding, and this morning urged the leadership to split the Edinburgh-based company into two entities.

“SVM strongly urges the company to separate the aviation business from the distribution business, a move that would be immediately and significantly value accretive,” it said in a statement to the stock exchange.

Such a split was championed in April this year by another shareholder, Lakestreet Capital, who were also understood to be planning to vote against the re-election of former chairman, Iain Napier.

This led to Napier standing down just two days before the company AGM in May, a departure that had been preceded by the resignation in January of CEO Jeremy Stafford for “personal reasons” and of chief financial officer, Paula Bell in April.

However, SVM added that it felt that the Board had now put these troubles behind them.

“As a direct result of the recent developments at the corporate governance level, SVM believes that the company - after two challenging years - is finally on the right track to take the appropriate actions to realise value for its shareholders under new leadership,” it said.

Former non-executive director, Dermot Jenkinson took over from Napier as interim chairman after agreeing to do the role for 12 months and lead the process to find a permanent replacement.

But SVM analyst Gianluca Ferrari today questioned whether Jenkinson was the right person to do this as he had connections through his wife to the Menzies family, the largest shareholder.

“Accordingly, SVM encourages the timely nomination of a new independent chairman,” SVM said.

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