An activist investor in transport giant First Group has stumbled in its attempt to force out six of the firm’s directors after one of its nominees did not agree to stand for a board position.
US investor Coast Capital, which holds a near 10 per cent stake in First, has called a radical shakeup of the company, including that it splits its UK assets from its US assets, withdraw from Britain’s rail industry and overhaul its board.
Coast has requested an extraordinary general meeting to vote on the removal of six current directors and the appointment of seven of its own nominees, which has been set for next Tuesday.
However, Coast’s attempt to force out the First board members appeared to hit a stumbling block after one of its nominees – former Arriva chief executive David Martin – failed to submit a consent letter agreeing to stand for the position.
A spokesperson for First said: “In order for a person nominated by a shareholder to be eligible to be appointed as a director, the company must receive confirmation in writing of that person’s willingness to be appointed by not less than seven days before the date of the general meeting to consider that person’s appointment.
“Under the articles of association of the Company, the deadline for receipt of such written confirmations was 18 June 2019.
“The company has not received any such confirmation from one of the Coast nominees, Mr David Martin, of his willingness to be appointed as a director of the company.”
They added: “Accordingly, that Coast nominee, Mr Martin, is not eligible to be appointed as a director of the company at the general meeting. “
James Rasteh, Coast’s chief investment officer, told City A.M: “David Martin has decided to rescind his nomination and has expressed that he would only join the board if it is refreshed and has a new chairman. He has been a most valuable colleague and partner.”
It is understood that Coast will still proceed with its attempt to replace the six members of First’s board with six of its own nominees.