Merger drive: Andrew Tinkler wants to reunite two arms of Stobart’s empire just four years after they split
An extraordinary plan to reunite the two parts of the Eddie Stobart empire has been hatched by an ousted boss, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
The business, famed for its familiar lorries on the motorways of Britain, was divided into two separate companies only four years ago: Stobart Group, which runs Southend Airport along with some biomass plants, and Eddie Stobart Logistics, the trucks side.
Former Stobart Group boss Andrew Tinkler was ejected from the board this month. But as we reveal today, he has secretly drawn up a blueprint which raises the prospect of putting the two firms back together again.
Tinkler still has an 8 per cent stake in Stobart Group but is being sued by the company, whose lawyers have accused him in a letter seen by the MoS of breaching his fiduciary duties as a director by disrupting the board and of trying to extract £40 million for himself.
The letter also alleges that billionaire Philip Day, who Tinkler wants installed as chairman, is an associate of Tinkler so would not be independent and expresses fears Tinkler may insert himself as chief executive.
Tinkler is trying to kick out chairman Iain Ferguson and replace him with retail tycoon Day, owner of the Jaeger and Peacocks brands. The showdown will come to a head at the annual meeting on July 6.
Documents seen by the MoS reveal Tinkler’s bold secret plans to re-merge Stobart Group with Eddie Stobart Logistics.
Dubbed ‘Project Park’, the dossier says a combined company would be worth more than £1.6 billion now and could be valued at £3.2 billion by 2023. But even Tinkler is forced to admit his scheme is likely to be greeted with doubt in the City.
‘It is likely that some in the market will look at this plan with scepticism as the two businesses were only separated 4 years ago,’ the documents say.
Eddie Stobart, famed for its familiar lorries on the motorways of Britain, was divided into two separate companies only four years ago: Stobart Group, which runs Southend Airport along with some biomass plants, and Eddie Stobart Logistics, the trucks side
The dispute has even dragged in star fund manager Neil Woodford, who has large stakes in both groups, though this weekend he tried to distance himself from the imbroglio.
Emails seen by the MoS show Tinkler sent his plans to Philip Day on May 15. Day replied: ‘Just read Project Park and it looks very interesting, can see why you would want to combine! WinWin.’
Tinkler responded: ‘Agree stronger together and everybody wins just need to get timing right.’
After stepping down as chief executive of Stobart Group last year, Tinkler was put in charge of a new investment arm called Stobart Capital. His spokesman said it was in this capacity that he drew up the plans.
‘Andrew generated numerous ideas at Stobart Capital to enhance shareholder value for the group. That was his job,’ the spokesman said. He added: ‘Philip Day is a businessman Andrew respects and they have discussed business ideas together, including those generated by Stobart Capital.’
Tinkler and Day, who own mansions on nearby estates in Cumbria, deny they are close friends but admit they are business contacts. Stobart and Eddie Stobart declined to comment.
A spokesman for Philip Day said: ‘Mr Day is a businessman and he often meets with third parties to provide informal advice on business ideas as an outsider. Mr Tinkler requested a meeting with Mr Day to discuss the idea of a merger between Stobart Group and Eddie Stobart logistics. Mr Day simply provided his opinion on how the markets might react, and did not retain any documentation from this meeting. This was one of the few times that Mr Day has met with Mr Tinkler, and this discussion lasted no more than 30 minutes.’