Quarto attacks rebel investors over attempt to oust founder

 
Kasmira Jefford
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BOOK publisher Quarto yesterday lashed out at a group of investors aiming at ousting co-founder and chief executive Laurence Orbach, urging other shareholders to vote against his being replaced at a meeting next month.

The group also warned that the spat was a distraction at a time when it should be focusing its attention on opportunities that might arise from Penguin’s merger with Random House.

Activist investor Christopher Mills’ Harwood Capital and the Wellcome Trust – who between them own 20 per cent – are urging fellow shareholders to remove Orbach, who is also chairman but has already agreed to relinquish the CEO post, and replace him with industry veteran Tim Chadwick, in a vote on 7 November.

But in a circular sent to shareholders yesterday, Quarto’s board warned the move would be “completely detrimental” to the best interests of the company and snubbed Chadwick’s “poor record of running publishing businesses”.

The board said the former Bookseller chief executive “has not been involved in the industry for approximately 15 years.”

It also added that Marcus Leaver, chief executive designate who joined in March, was “admirably equipped” for the task of succeeding Orbach.