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Shareholder pressure ousts Watt at EFM

Edinburgh Fund Managers chief executive Iain Watt has been forced to quit following months of intense pressure from shareholders, including institutional investor Hermes.

In a dramatic boardroom shakeout, chairman John Wright and three non-executive directors have also left the embattled company, which is likely to face another takeover bid or radical reconstruction following a strategic review in the coming weeks.

Hermes, which had a bid for EFM dismissed last November, is believed to have led other shareholders, including Artemis and Prudential, in ousting Watt, who they blame for the massive collapse in the firm&#39s share price over the past year.

The share price has fallen by more than 70 per cent and EFM suspended its interim dividend after losing management of the £1.1bn Edinburgh Investment Trust, to Fidelity in August. The trust accounted for more than £5m of EFM&#39s income.

Chief investment officer Anne Richards and chief operating officer Rod MacRae – the only remaining directors – have been appointed joint managing directors.

EFM says: “The executive directors determined that it was in the best interests of the company for the future that Iain Watt be removed from the board.”

Simpsons of Brighton partner Andrew Merricks says: “The writing was on the wall when it lost EIT.”

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