Minerva asks investors to vote again on chairman

THE NEXT round in the protracted battle to reinstall Oliver Whitehead as chairman of Minerva is set to take place in early March when the property group will again seek shareholder approval for the appointment.

A board resolution to reappoint Whitehead was defeated at the company’s annual meeting in December when Nathan Kirsh’s KiFin investment vehicle used its 29.9 per cent cent stake to block the move. An unsolicited offer for Minerva from KiFin lapsed in January with acceptances representing just 0.08 per cent of Minerva’s share capital.

But stripping out the KiFin votes, 99.86 per cent of shareholders voting at the December meeting supported Whitehead’s re-election.

Minerva’s board has opted to hold a new meeting – expected in early March – after the group’s interim results have been announced.

In a statement yesterday Minerva’s board said: “Oliver Whitehead should remain as chairman of Minerva and has canvassed opinion from a number of institutional shareholders regarding this matter.”

The group said it will shortly be sending out a formal notice to shareholders to convene the meeting.

OLIVER WHITEHEAD was first appointed to the board of Minerva in July 2006. He is also chairman of Norland Managed Services and was previously chief executive of Alfred McAlpine – now owned by construction giant Carillion – from May 1993 to August 2003. He later chaired the group from then until June 2007. Before joining the building firm he held several senior executive roles with Babcock International – where he was chief executive – Amec and John Laing. Whitehead was in December appointed to act as chairman during the course of the unsolicited offer from KiFin. While Whitehead’s reappointment to the board was blocked by investors, Minerva said those shareholders not connected to KiFin had given “near unanimous” support for the move.