Lighthouse has attempted to reassure shareholders that its management is not looking to take control of the group, ahead of a vote on its proposed de-listing from Aim.
Earlier this month, Lighthouse announced its intention to delist from Aim, citing a number of disadvantages it believed it was suffering due to its quoted structure.
The group intends to move to a public unquoted structure but requires the approval of 75 per cent of shareholders with a shareholder meeting set for July 31. A significant number of shareholders have raised their concerns about the delisting.
Paul Chase-Gardner, who has a 5.4 per cent stake, and Cavendish Asset Management senior investment manager Paul Mumford, who has a 5 per cent shareholding through his Aim fund, say they will vote against the plans. Julian Telling, who holds 5.14 per cent stake says the move is “not in the interests of shareholders”.
Allan Rosengren (pictured), the former joint chief executive who holds a 14.7 per cent stake, is not commenting on his voting intentions.
The Lighthouse board owns around 7 per cent of shares.
In an announcement to the market this morning, Lighthouse says: “Since the announcement on July 9 there has been some speculation that it is the intention of some or all of the group’s management to take control of the Company. The board confirms that there is no such intention.”
The note to shareholders repeats the board’s arguments that the group’s perceived value based on its stock market listing is not a fair reflection of its true value and that the current negative sentiment towards IFA firms from investors is unlikely to change in the near term.
Lighthouse says if the delisting takes place it will set up a matched bargain arrangement with a stockbroker to allow shareholders to trade shares.
Addressing shareholder concerns about governance that have been expressed in the media, Lighthouse says the group will continue to hold regular shareholder meetings, maintain non-exec representation on the board and operate audit, remuneration and risk committees. Lighthouse also says it will look at the feasibility of restoring dividend payments, dependent on business performance.
Lighthouse Group chairman David Hickey says: “The plain truth is the lack of positive sentiment in the stock markets for IFA businesses. For Lighthouse, at this time, there are no attractions to being on AIM, and too many disadvantages.
“It is crucial that shareholders remember that Lighthouse operates in a highly regulated sector and the proposed delisting should be viewed differently to other businesses in unregulated sectors leaving the market.
“Lighthouse will continue to maintain robust standards of corporate governance in addition to abiding by the stringent regulatory, governance and other obligations imposed by the FSA.”
Other shareholders include LV=, with 6.5 per cent, Friends Provident with 5.9 per cent, Skandia Life Assurance with 4.8 per cent and Kames Capital with 3.5 per cent. All declined to comment but Money Marketing understands Skandia will vote in favour of delisting.