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December 19, 2011 1:33 am
Two of Scotland’s most prominent business leaders have become involved in a struggle for control of IndigoVision, an Aim-listed Edinburgh company that provides internet-based digital camera security systems.
Sir Peter Burt, former chief executive of the Bank of Scotland, has been enlisted by Oliver Vellacott, who has been replaced as chief executive but still owns 22.9 per cent of the shares in the company he founded 17 years ago.
The chairman of IndigoVision is Hamish Grossart, a nephew of the veteran merchant banker Sir Angus Grossart. He is also deputy chairman of British Polythene Industries and chairman of Artemis Investment Management.
Mr Vellacott has asked for an extraordinary general meeting and has claimed to have gathered the support of 40 per cent of IndigoVision’s shareholders for proposals to reinstate him to the board, appoint Sir Peter as chairman and remove Mr Grossart.
Mr Grossart has denied Mr Vellacott was sacked, but said the board was determined to make the management of the company more professional. He said the founder had turned down an offer to become executive deputy chairman, with no change to his terms and conditions.
Mr Grossart also said that, after obtaining permission in September to buy out existing shareholders, Mr Vellacott had made conditional approaches that valued the shares at 225p, then 248p and 265p. The chairman said: “None of these in the board’s view reflected either the short-term trading performance of the business, nor did they reflect in any way the prospects of the business, long term.”
Mr Grossart added: “We all rather like the founder ... but he played his position in a way that left the board with no alternative but to part company, if we were to move the management on.”
The shares, which reached 580p in February but then fell to 165p in September, closed on Friday unchanged at 267.5p, which values the company at £20m.
Mr Vellacott said: “IndigoVision has a great future and a solid executive team, but I am strongly of the view that the direction in which the chairman is taking the board and the company is not wise.”
Mr Vellacott has been replaced as chief executive by Marcus Kneen, the former finance director.
Sir Peter, who is a friend of Mr Vellacott, said: “I think you need a visionary running high-tech companies, seeing what’s coming along, because the great problem with technology companies is the speed of change – once you fall behind the curve, it is very difficult to recover and catch up.”
IndigoVision will publish a lengthy document at the end of December, setting out a detailed chronology of what happened. The extraordinary general meeting is expected to be held in late January.
Last week Mr Grossart spent £463,425 on buying shares at 250.5p, lifting his stake in IndigoVision to 5.1 per cent.
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