Countryside Properties chairman David Howell will step down from the board in 2021, a day after its third-largest investor called for his removal.
Yesterday US-based shareholder Browning West said leadership changes at the housebuilder were “immediately required”, claiming the developer had “several significant deficiencies”.
The pressure from Browning West followed previous letters to the board laying out its plan to split off the company’s housebuilding arm from the Partnerships unit.
The investor said Howell had “insufficient leadership skills”, and that Countryside’s partnerships division, which links up with local authorities and housing associations, was “vastly superior” to its housebuilding unit.
“As more capital is allocated to Partnerships, we are reorganising the business to facilitate a future separation of the Housebuilding division to optimise long-term shareholder value,” chief executive officer Iain McPherson said in statement.
Browning West called for the replacement of Howell on Wednesday and for the appointment to the board of the fund’s representative, Usman Nabi, who could co-lead the search for a new chairperson.
Upon hearing the news of Howell’s departure, Nabi said: “We are delighted that the board has implemented our recommendations regarding the need for a new chairman and separating Housebuilding from Partnerships.
“We look forward to the board moving with urgency and to a continued dialogue on these and other issues in order to let Partnerships prosper.”
The housebuilder also reported a 77 per cent slump in annual adjusted operating profit to £54.2m, hit by a 30 per cent fall in home completions during the year due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.