Rebel investors at UK pub group Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), including Irish horse racing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier, yesterday succeeded in ousting the company's chairman and installing a team of new non-executive board members that includes Superquinn chairman Simon Burke.
Mr Burke was among a number of non-executive directors proposed for election at M&B's annual general meeting by the Piedmont investment vehicle, which is owned by Bahamas-based British billionaire Joe Lewis. Piedmont has a 22.8% stake in the group, whose pubs trade under names such as O'Neill's and All Bar One. The Irish multi-millionaires own 17.6% via their Elpida investment group.
Piedmont has been involved in a highly public row with the M&B board for months, accusing it of failing shareholders. Elpida had remained publicly silent on the fracas until just days ago, when it voiced its backing for Piedmont and called for a fresh board and the replacement of M&B chairman Simon Laffin.
The bust-up had turned increasingly ugly recently. Mr Laffin had removed two non-executive Piedmont directors claiming they had not been exercising judgment ‘in the interests of shareholders’.