Speedy shareholder clash persists

By Helen Wright05 September 2016

The war of words between UK rental company Speedy Hire and its and major shareholder Toscafund has continued ahead of a decisive meeting planned for 9th September.

Toscafund has issued a new statement in the tit-for-tat clash in which it again pushed for Speedy’s other shareholders to support its proposal to parachute David Shearer onto the Speedy board.

Mr Shearer is currently chairman of Liberty Living Group, chairman of Aberdeen New Dawn Investment Trust, and senior independent director at STV Group.

“The current makeup of the Board demonstrates that Mr. Shearer’s skills and expertise are urgently needed in order to redress the egregious corporate governance failings instigated by [Speedy Hire chairman] Jan Åstrand,” the Toscafund letter said.

Speedy Hire has consistently pushed back against Toscafund’s calls to remove its chairman Mr Åstrand, and has urged its other shareholders to reject the demands at the upcoming meeting.

Toscafund has also been angered by Speedy’s rejection of a merger plan with HSS Hire, another UK rental company.

The activist shareholder, which owns 19.4% of Speedy’s shares and an 18.1% stake in HSS Hire, and called for the general meeting of Speedy’s shareholders and management to consider two resolutions: the first to remove Jan Åstrand as chairman, and the second to appoint David Shearer as a director of the company.

In its latest shareholder circular, Speedy again rejected Mr Shearer’s candidacy as chairman and stood by Mr Åstrand’s role as executive chairman, calling it “temporary and appropriate”, while stating that the combination of Mr Åstrand and chief executive Russell Down represented “strong and stable leadership”.

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