The back and forth between Speedy Hire and its largest shareholder Toscafund is flaring up to new levels of intensity, as the disgruntled investor fights back against Speedy’s latest rebuttal.

Toscafund Asset Management is pushing for shareholders to vote for the removal of the tool hire company’s executive chairman at a special general meeting it has forced in September.

Last Wednesday it stepped up its pressure on Speedy, calling for executive chairman Jan Åstrand to resign immediately ahead of the meeting.

Then on Friday, Speedy hit back with a detailed rebuttal of all of Toscafund’s criticisms.

But today Toscafund has struck back again, branding Mr Åstrand’s presence as “detrimental” to the company.

Toscafund’s criticisms include:

It is clear that the appointment of Robert Contreras as a non-executive director contravened good governance rules.

Jan Astrand has a previous longstanding association with Robert Contreras, and supported his appointment as FD and CEO at Northgate, where he was a Director. In appointing Contreras, Jan Astrand clearly ignored good governance requirements that apply to the selection of truly independent directors.

Toscafund has accused Mr Åstrand of undermining the position of Russell Down, the new chief executive, by interviewing a prospective replacement without consulting shareholders. Today it pointed out that “there is no denial from Jan Astrand on this matter.”

It has rejected Mr Astrand’s offer “to revert to being a non-executive chairman next month,” noting:

Toscafund does not believe this is credible. Having spent more than a year as an executive chairman, and having overseen failed merger discussions, Jan Astrand can no longer be considered as independent or non-executive in any sense of the terms. The only solution is for Speedy Hire to elect a new, independent non-executive Chairman.

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