Monday 23 May 2016 5:20 pm

Stock Spirits knocked back as activist investors win board appointees

Eastern European vodka maker Stocks Spirits will be feeling worse for wear today, after shareholders voted to appoint two non-executives to the board – against the company's wishes.

At today's annual general meeting a majority of shareholders approved the move to let Alberto Da Ponte, a former Heineken exec, and Randy Pankevicz, a former PepsiCo manager join the boardroom table.

Western Gate Private Investments will be thrilled with the outcome, after the investment vehicle – run by Luis Amaral – put forward the two choices. The group has previously chalked up a win when it pushed for the then-chief executive of Stock Spirits Chris Heath to take one for the road.

Heath left the company a few weeks later.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange following the annual general meeting the vodka maker said it looked forward to a "constructive working relationship" with the pair, although it advised investors to vote against their appointment.

The company also made clear: "The board has determined that as Mr da Ponte and Mr Pankevicz have been proposed by Western Gate, they are not independent of Western Gate, and accordingly, they will be non-independent non-executive Directors."

Stock Spirits will now continue the search for two additional "independent, non-executive directors", it said.

Shares closed up 1.9 per cent at 161p in London this evening.