F&C board fights back as Sherborne showdown looms

EMBATTLED F&C Asset Management has set a date for its showdown with Sherborne Investors over its bid to replace chairman Nick MacAndrew and take control of the board.

F&C shareholders will meet on 3 February at Sherborne’s request to vote on whether to oust MacAndrew and director Brian Larcombe and appoint Sherborne’s founder Edward Bramson, chairman Ian Brindle and an independent director, Derham O’Neill, in their place.

F&C’s board opposes the bid, arguing it is destabilising the firm as it implements a turnaround strategy to return it to full value after prolonged uncertainty over its future.

“Sherborne has requisitioned this general meeting without putting forward an alternative strategy and at a time when stability has finally been achieved,” said MacAndrew. “This unwelcome and opportunistic move by Sherborne is damaging to the business and is not in the best interests of our shareholders.”

Key shareholder Aviva, which owns a ten per cent stake in F&C and 19.5 per cent of Sherborne, is known to support Sherborne, saying last month it believes Bramson can deliver a turnaround at F&C as he has in previous investments Elementis and Spirent.

Guernsey-based Sherborne, an activist investor with a track record of taking control of firms it believes are underperforming, has built a 17.6 per cent stake in F&C since August and is now its largest single shareholder.

It believes F&C’s share price undervalues the company and that it has underperformed over the long term.