M&B rejects olive branch from Joe Lewis

MITCHELLS & Butlers (M&B), the pub group that owns All Bar One, yesterday said it was rejecting a last-minute olive branch from currency trader Joe Lewis, its largest shareholder, over the make-up of the firm’s board.

The move sets the scene for a dramatic showdown at the group’s annual meeting on Thursday.

Current chairman Simon Laffin will probably be ousted when Lewis’ vehicle Piedmont – which has a 23 per cent stake in M&B – votes against his election. Laffin’s predecessor Drumond Hall and non-executive director Tony Bates are also likely to be voted off the board.

Lewis’ preferred candidate to become the new chairman is former Debenhams chairman John Lovering.

In a statement yesterday, M&B said: “The board’s overriding aim is to ensure that no individual shareholder, or bloc of shareholders, has excessive influence over the board composition or decisions.”

On Sunday, Lewis indicated that he would support the appointment of an additional independent non-executive to assuage fears that he was taking control. But M&B yesterday dismissed the offer. “Piedmont’s position seems not to have changed in any substantive respect.”