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Birkett plea to Prestbury shareholders against his removal

Prestbury chief executive officer Lee Birkett has written to shareholders urging them to vote against the resolution to remove him and his mother, finance director Lynne Birkett, from their roles.

Lee Birkett says the letter circulated to shareholders calling for their removal contains “many inaccuracies” and claims that a restructure of the board to create a non-executive majority would lead to the company being controlled by part-time directors.

Birkett’s letter confirms that 44 per cent of shareholders have already undertaken to vote against the move, including Birkett himself, ex-chief operating officer Steve Keenan, and sales director Kevin Sample.

It also confirms that the EGM for the Birketts’ removal was called by Armadillo Investments and Arlington special situations fund.

In the letter Birkett defends the write down of the £850,000 loan to Prestbury Investment Management, the packager that was formerly part of Prestbury Group Holdings but is now wholly owned by Lee Birkett and Steve Keenan.

Birkett refutes the allegation that PIM is of “dubious benefit to the shareholders” and says that in July 2005, Prestbury was losing £50,000 per month and if PIM was not transferred out of the network, the group would have breached its capital adequacy ratios.

Birkett says that himself and Keenan absorbed the overhead costs for the firm leading to the build up of the £850,000 loan, but he says the terms of the deal allow Prestbury Group Holdings the option to buy back PIM for £1.

Birkett also defends his remuneration and says that Lynne Birkett’s salary of £60,000 is well below that of her peers.

He says: “I am sure you can now understand why from a regulatory perspective, we as FSA controlling function directors, objected to the non-executives’ proposal to bring two further independent directors to form an independent and part-time majority which would control your business.”

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