Investors give M&B a bloody nose on execs

City A.M. Reporter
MANY shareholders in Mitchells & Butlers yesterday rebelled against the dominance of the company’s largest investor Piedmont by voting against the re-election of its representatives Ron Robson and Douglas McMahon to the board.

Although all five directors were voted back onto the board at the company’s AGM, about one in five investors either voted against or abstained from voting for Robson and McMahon, piling further pressure on chairman Bob Ivell to tackle the company’s lack of independent non-executive directors.

Investors also vetoed the proposed share buyback scheme, which needed 75 per cent to carry as a special resolution, but received only 54 per cent support.

The failure of the scheme is seen as a sign that majority shareholder Piedmont, the Joe Lewis-controlled vehicle that has a 25.8 per cent stake in the company, and Elpida, the investment firm that has a 20.76 per cent interest, are reluctant to dilute their holding in the business.

Ahead of the AGM, meanwhile, investors raised concerns over the ongoing lack of a dividend to shareholders, the deterioration in the company’s pension deficit, and the lack of an improvement in margins.

In a trading update, M&B reported better-than-expected Christmas trading with sales at restaurants and pubs open more than a year rising 4.4 per cent in the 17 weeks to 21 January.