The founder and chairman of London-listed gold miner Petropavlovsk has hit back at major shareholders who are trying to force out the current board.
Renova, a Russian mining investment fund, along with institutional investors M&G and Sothic, allege the current board has been responsible for corporate governance failures, and say they will vote against the reappointment of the chairman and three non-executive directors at the annual general meeting on 22 June.
Peter Hambro, the Petropavlovsk chairman, has accused the minority shareholders of “trying to steal the company”. He told City A.M.: “They’re trying to take over the board without paying a premium.”
The trio of investors currently controls around a third of shares in the miner, but Hambro accuses them of attempting a stealth takeover.
Renova is run by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire. Vekselberg has previously been fined in Switzerland over breaches of disclosure rules around building a stake in a company.
Hambro, a scion of a well-known banking dynasty, founded Petropavlovsk in 1994. The miner overextended itself at the start of the decade, running up a succession of large losses.
However, last year Petropavlovsk returned to profit, and Hambro expects gold production this year to reach the “top end of the range” of previous guidance, of 460,000 ounces.
Hambro accepted the logic of appointing a non-executive chairman, after announcing he would step down from the role but remain an executive board member. He said: “I’m accepting what’s happening in the world since I started.”
However, he insisted other investors should vote to keep him on the board.
“I think it is in the shareholders’ interest to vote against the proposal,” he said. “We’ve turned this company round.”
Sothic Capital Management declined to comment. Renova and M&G could not be reached for comment.