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City news: F&C coup succeeds

3rd Feb 2011
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F&C Asset Management shareholders have voted in favour of activist shareholder Edward Bramson and his Sherborne investment vehicle taking charge of the company.

At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) today F&C investors were overwhelmingly in favour of Bramson with 65% choosing to remove the incumbent chairman Nick MacAndrew and 70% voting to put Bramson in his place.

As a result of the EGM, MacAndrew and Brian Larcombe have now ceased to be directors of F&C, while Bramson along with former UK head of PwC Ian Brindle and former Clifford Chance lawyer Derham O'Neill have been named as the replacements.

After the dramatic boardroom shake-up, Bramson said: "The new directors are grateful for the support shown by shareholders and very much look forward to working with our new board colleagues to bring a fresh perspective to the company's strategic direction, to the benefit of all shareholders, clients and staff."

Sherborne - F&C’s largest investor with an 18% holding - had previously attacked the strategy and financial discipline of the asset manager. Aviva Investors was also an early backer of the coup, as a 9% shareholder in F&C and 19% investor in Sherborne.

Prior to the vote Bramson was attacked by F&C for threatening the stability of the business, with the board calling on its shareholders to reject the proposals to remove chairman MacAndrew.

After the meeting, MacAndrew said: "The board has been re-constituted in line with the wishes of the majority of shareholders. It is time for putting differences of opinion and judgment aside, for building bridges and most particularly for remembering that what matters most are the best interests of F&C, its shareholders, its staff and its other stakeholders."

Alain Grisay, chief executive of F&C, added: "Shareholders have spoken clearly and we respect their decision.”

Bramson will now work with the remaining F&C directors and meet with the board to discuss his strategy for the business.

The vote was held earlier today at JP Morgan Cazenove’s offices in London.

For the full results of the F&C meeting, click here.

Update: In other City boardroom news, TUI Travel shareholders voted at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) to reinstate PwC as auditor. Last week the investor advisory group PIRC urged shareholders in TUI Travel to vote against the reinstatement of auditor PwC because it was the incumbent at one of the group's acquired companies where "fundamental flaws in internal controls" were later uncovered by KPMG, forcing a restatement of TUI Travel's 2009 comparative figures in the 2010 accounts.

In October last year KPMG blew the whistle on the accounting error, which led to an increasingly strained relationship with some of TUI’s directors and the Big Four firm's resignation as auditor.

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