Leading fund manager Neil Woodford is leading a push to unseat construction group Kier’s top executive team after its botched rights issue, according to reports.
Woodford Investment Management, which owns a 16 per cent stake in Kier, is leading a push to replace chief executive Haydn Mursell and finance director Bev Dew, Sky News reported over the weekend.
The report said other major shareholders are supportive of Woodford’s desire for change at the outsourcer.
This follows a surprise rights issue before Christmas which flopped, with only 38 per cent of its new shares bought by investors.
The underwriting banks, which included HSBC, Citi and Santander, were forced to spend millions hoovering up Kier’s unwanted shares.
Kier’s share price crashed to its lowest point in a decade after the surprise rights issue was announced, but it has since begun to recover.
Its underwriters have been able to shift the unsold shares to institutional investors and their losses have been offset by the £14m in fees Kier paid for the rights issue.
During December Woodford boosted his shareholding in Kier, strengthening his hand in demanding change at the outsourcer.
Following the rights issue Mursell told investors: “Kier enters 2019 with a strong balance sheet which puts us in an excellent competitive position.”
Kier’s woes are reflected across the outsourcing and construction sector which was shaken by the collapse of Carillion last year which led to question marks over the financial health of some of its peers.
Kier Group and Woodford Investment Management declined to comment.