SVG shake-up as rebels fail to win vote

PRIVATE equity investor SVG Capital has faced down a shareholder revolt and will continue with plans to diversify beyond Permira, the buyout firm in which it has traditionally invested.

SVG won 66 per cent backing for the change yesterday although nearly 34 per cent of the votes went against it. It also won virtually unanimous support to return £172m to shareholders, almost the same amount as it raised in a rights issue in 2009.

The listed fund had the backing of Aegon and Aviva and saw off opposition from global investor Coller Capital, which has a 20 per cent stake and was seen to want the wind-down of SVG and the return of capital to shareholders.

After the general meeting Nicholas Ferguson (pictured), the outgoing chairman of SVG, said: “Like any business, SVG Capital has a diverse shareholder base who have differing views and investment mandates.

“The board believes the reinvestment strategy balances the needs of all stakeholders and gives it the flexibility to control capital through a disciplined asset allocation framework focused on shareholder total return and net asset value growth.”

SVG has been a cornerstone investor in Permira’s funds, pledging €2.8bn (£2.33bn) to the firm’s fourth fund in 2006. That figure was later reduced when SVG saw it could struggle to meet all its cash calls and it launched a capital raising to repair its balance sheet.

Permira is one of Europe’s biggest private equity funds and has stakes in brands such as Hugo Boss, retailer New Look and Bird’s Eye owner Iglo.