Shareholders take over Spicers board

Shareholders take over Spicers board
Vote passed for removal of CFO from board, US p/e duo get seats

Spicers shareholders have rejected the recommendations of what was its Board for who should be on it, and dumped the CFO from the board, and gone with the appointment of two controversial US fund managers. 

Chief financial officer Wayne Johnston has been removed from the board of Spicers, although he will continue in his executive role at the company, while two out-going non-executive directors have been replaced, and four new directors voted in.

The board had recommended Malcolm McComas and David Stillman as replacements for Robert Kaye and Mike Barker, and recommended against removing Johnston from the board. The shareholders voted against the recommendations.

All up, Spicers has six new board members, including US-private equity duo Todd Plutsky and Vlad Artamonov, alongside Gabriel Berger, Nigel Burgess, Jonathan Trollip, and ex-CEO Andrew Preece.

The motion to remove Johnston was made by Todd Plutsky. He has been removed as a director effective immediately after the conclusion of the meeting.

Plutsky and Artamonov are partners at Coastal Investment Management, a US-based aggresive equity fund, which held 19 percent of the hybrid securities and a history of buying up Australian companies and shaking up the boards.

The latest Board battle follows a period of relative stability for Spicers since it pulled out of Europe, and when it was engaged in an ongoing attempt from former Stream CEO Andrew Price to unseat Board members and put himself in there.

How Plutsky and Artamonov intend to steer the business is not yet known but it is unlikely to be pain free for everyone.

Spicers has just resolved its long running dispute with its hybrid shareholders, who now own 68 per cent of the business. It has just released its full year results, which saw sales and profits slip, with growth in sign and display only partially offsetting falls in the Australian commercial print market.

In 2013 Coastal Investment purchased a 5 per cent stake in Billabong, which it still holds, and sought to remove a large portion of the board, minus the company’s founders.

It bought into the deleveraging of Perth-based national energy provider Alinta Energy in 2011, a plan led by the utility owner's lenders designed to stop the group from collapsing under $2bn of debt.

Ending up with the Alinta rump, it acquired a stake in Redbank Power Station, a 151MW coal fired baseload power station located in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Originally trading on the ASX under Redbank Energy, it delisted in August 2016, and is in the process of selling assets.

Johnston remains in his position as CFO, with shareholders convinced that a separation between executives and directors was a positive decision for the company.

Source: Australian Printer

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