- Premier Foods is to try to defuse a shareholder revolt against CEO Gavin Darby
- Top investor, Oasis Management, wants the board to search for a new boss
- Premier is organising meetings with investors to try and stabilise things
Premier Foods bosses are launching a charm offensive in the City to try to defuse a shareholder revolt against chief executive Gavin Darby.
Keith Hamill, chairman of the firm – whose brands include Mr Kipling, Batchelors and Oxo – is organising dozens of meetings with investors over the next two weeks following demands from one activist shareholder for Darby’s scalp.
Oasis Management, the second biggest investor with an 8.7 per cent stake, wants the board to search for a new boss.
Troubled: The bosses at Premier Foods – whose brands include Mr Kipling, Batchelors and Oxo – are launching a charm offensive in the City to try to defuse a shareholder revolt against chief executive Gavin Darby
At next month’s annual meeting it plans to vote against Darby who has led the firm since 2013.
Oasis may find support from another shareholder Paulson & Co, which last year claimed Premier has been ‘grossly mismanaged’.
They are annoyed that the shares have remained below 40p despite an approach from US predator McCormick in 2016 with a potential offer of 65p a share.
A bid did not materialise amid concerns over Premier’s pension deficit.
But one company source slammed the coup attempt by Oasis as ‘bizarre’, saying Darby has improved the business and it is now on the cusp of a recovery.
Darby may find support from Japanese partner Nissin, the largest shareholder which owns 20 per cent of the firm.
Hamill, who joined the firm seven months ago, said: ‘This is not an easy sector. But the business is well run by Gavin. It is efficient and we’re making progress. I don’t think you will find a better person to run this business but it will take time and we need to keep everything stable while we do it.’