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Prestbury to look at consolidations

Prestbury chief executive Lee Birkett says he is considering potential consolidations with other networks after winning an EGM vote to retain his job.

A resolution put forward by rebel Prestbury shareholders Arlington special situations fund and Armadillo Investments, calling for the removal from the board of Lee Birkett and his mother, finance director Lynne Birkett, was defeated at last week’s EGM, with 59 per cent of shareholders supporting the Birketts.

Lee Birkett holds 26 per cent of company shares and if these are subtracted from the total number of votes cast, the result would have been reversed, with 60 per cent in favour of his removal. He says the result was democratic, with one vote per share.

In a recent letter seen by Money Marketing, the shareholders said that they had lost confidence in corporate governance standards and accused the Birketts of presiding over huge value destruction at the network, expressing the concern that too many conflicts of interest existed between executive directors of the Prestbury board. The shareholders were also concerned about the write-off of a loan of over £850,000 from Prestbury Group Holdings to Prestbury Investment Management, a packager which was formerly part of the listed company which is now owned by Lee Birkett.

The rebel shareholders and Prestbury chairman Conservative shadow minister Francis Maude declined to comment on the EGM result.

Lee Birkett says: “We are in a consolidatory environment and we want to be right at the heart of it, whether that means being consolidated or becoming a consolidator. All the chief executives of different firms are talking to each other at the moment and we may be able to reopen some discussions we have not have been able to have in the past now that the EGM is behind us.”

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