May 3, 2019 / 8:04 AM / 5 months ago

Mears top shareholder seeks to place two nominees to board

(Reuters) - Mears Group said on Friday top shareholder PrimeStone Capital has called on the company to add two of its nominees as non-executive board members, a month after the social housing provider’s shares slumped after disappointing results.

PrimeStone, which holds a stake of about 13.5 percent in Mears, said the company’s underperformance was “predominantly due to a lack of strategic, commercial and financial experience on the Board.”

The shareholder proposed Andrew Coppel and Ian Lawson for the roles, saying both had “strong financial and commercial skills to complement the existing board.”

Coppel has been chairman of Dolphin Capital Investors Plc since 2016, and Lawson was CEO of Severfield Plc from 2013 to 2018, having previously been a director at builder Kier Group.

Debt-laden Mears has been trying to move away from its roots in contracting and is focusing more on housing and social care services. It has also committed to reallocate capital to areas that deliver financial returns or use it to cut debt.

The company, which replaced its chairman last year after shareholder pressure, recommended voting against PrimeStone’s proposals, saying a process for these appointments was already underway.

The company is seeking to make one appointment by the end of June and the other before the summer holidays, it said.

“The Board firmly believes that any process to identify potential new non-executive directors should be conducted by the Nominations Committee of the Board after an appropriate external search open to a broad range of candidates,” Mears said in a statement.

PrimeStone, which was founded by three former partners at the Carlyle group, has put up the proposals for vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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