Funeral firm Dignity is set for a showdown with its biggest shareholder next month amid a battle for control of the group.
The firm, the UK’s only listed funeral provider, said it will hold a meeting on 22 April for investors to vote on a proposal by Phoenix Asset Management Partners to oust Dignity’s executive chairman Clive Whiley.
Dignity blasted the move as “wholly unnecessary” and said its independent directors would resign if Phoenix succeeded in replacing Whiley with its own founder and chief investment officer, Gary Channon.
“This wholly unnecessary act came at a time when the board had been making considerable progress towards the completion of the previously announced root-and-branch review which, since mid-December 2020, has involved an extensive collaborative approach with Phoenix – something which the independent directors welcomed and believed was likely to provide significant benefits to the group,” Dignity said in a statement.
The company added that the timing of the move and the behaviour of Phoenix “has led all three of the independent directors to form the view that Phoenix is not acting in the best interests of shareholders as a whole, but is instead driven primarily by its own self-interest”.
Dignity also said that the independent directors believe “management continuity is vitally important to the strategic direction of the business, as the group works toward stability and growth.”