Over the past couple of weeks there have been numerous media articles reporting board instability at Stobart Group. We believed (and requested) that it was in the company’s best interests for this instability to be resolved in the boardroom rather than in the public eye. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control this has not proved to be the case. Below is a statement to clarify our position in light of the many unfounded allegations regarding me and Woodford Investment Management.
“I have been one of the largest shareholders in the Stobart Group for more than a decade. Recently I have become aware, with other shareholders, of Board instability and have sought to address this privately. Once I became aware of these governance issues I undertook extensive diligence in order to establish the causes of this instability.
“My motivation, as a leading shareholder has been to ensure that the Company is able to continue to deliver great returns to all of its shareholders. Sadly, the Board has seemed determined to make this a public discussion and has wasted shareholder funds by employing lawyers that have made unfounded and ludicrous allegations against me and other parties.
“Throughout my time as a Stobart Group shareholder, I have been able to observe Andrew Tinkler as a senior executive. It is his creative and entrepreneurial leadership that has delivered shareholder value for Stobart Group. He is an unconventional, straight talking, honourable man.
“My considered view is that the Stobart Board now needs a new Chairman to restore stability and to ensure that shareholder value creation continues in the manner that we have become accustomed to over the past decade or more. That is why I have recommended that Iain Ferguson, the Chairman, steps down. Philip Day is my preferred candidate to come onto the Board. He has extensive experience managing and leading diverse businesses in challenging environments whilst delivering excellent returns to shareholders. I believe he will be a very strong and effective leader of Stobart Group at a time when the business needs just that. Ultimately, I would like him to become Chairman but that will be up to the Board to decide.
“People often criticise fund managers for being absentee landlords and for failing to engage with Boards appropriately. Yet, in this instance, Woodford is being criticised for doing precisely that. We’re exercising our legitimate right as a shareholder (representing our investors) to seek to replace one member of the Board, yet some members of the Board, using the Company’s resources, have sought to obstruct this process. We question its motivations for seeking to frustrate the appropriate behaviour of a responsible shareholder.”