The London Stock Exchange (LSE) Group today tried to wrestle back control of a row over its outgoing chief executive, Xavier Rolet, cancelling a meeting with an activist investor and insisting it will only deal with all shareholders on an equal footing.
Hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn was due this week to meet the LSE board, who he alleges are trying to force Rolet out.
However, last week Hohn, head of The Children's Investment (TCI) fund, formally requested an extraordinary shareholder meeting to call for the removal of chairman Donald Brydon. The LSE today said the move meant they could no longer give Hohn special access to the board.
In a letter to the LSE sent today, Hohn said the LSE board had “failed to provide transparency to shareholders”.
Responding to Hohn's letter, a spokesperson for the LSE said: “The letter calls on us to provide clarity to shareholders. The board has a duty to present to shareholders in a circular all the facts necessary, at the same time, for them to take a decision and it will of course respect this duty.”
No date for the meeting has been publicly announced, although the board has just over two weeks to set a date under company law.
Hohn is currently consulting other major shareholders who he hopes will back him at the meeting.
Hohn's request for a meeting asks for a vote on resolutions to remove Brydon from his position, and to offer Rolet a new, extended term. As an owner of more than five per cent of shares in the LSE Group, Hohn is entitled to requisition the meeting.
Rolet, who announced in October he will retire by the end of 2018, has signed a confidentiality agreement with the LSE about the reasons for leaving, Hohn alleges.
Hohn called once again for the board to “waive LSE’s requirement for confidentiality to allow Xavier Rolet to answer shareholders’ questions”.
The letter also calls for the shareholder circular calling the extraordinary meeting to include the “specific reasons” for Rolet’s departure, including whether it was performance-related or otherwise.
Hohn also asked for details of any “severance or other payments” to Rolet, including “payments for loss of office”. The letter notes board members who approved any transaction of the latter kind without consulting shareholders "will be personally liable for these payments".
Furthermore, the letter asks what the "succession plan" for the position of chairman is in place, and whether Brydon wishes to stand for re-election at the next board election.