Countrywide boss in scrap

COUNTRYWIDE chairman Harry Hill has triggered a fierce City row by trying to oust board members from an Aim company in which he is a shareholder by sending out pre-ticked voting cards.<br /><br />The activist investor, who owns 19 per cent of Sovereign Reversions, has been slammed by the firm&rsquo;s board, with executive director Rupert Pearce Gourd warning the move could set a dangerous precedent.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is certainly not cricket. It&rsquo;s really leading people all the way down the garden path,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I still don&rsquo;t think they will win.&rdquo;<br /><br />Hill dispatched the proxy cards &ndash; used to log votes at shareholder meetings without attending &ndash; with boxes already ticked, to simplify the process of voting in favour of his plans to oust the firm&rsquo;s board and sell off its assets.<br /><br />But Capita, registrar to the vote, which will be held an an extraordinary meeting on 2 September, has expressed concern the cards may confuse the firm&rsquo;s giant base of private shareholders.<br /><br />Capita has sought advice from the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators amid fears many shareholders will attempt to change the vote on the cards, thereby rendering them &ldquo;spoiled ballots&rdquo; that do not count as a vote.