SkyePharma founder retires from board

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Ian Gowrie-Smith, founder of SkyePharma, who was ousted as chairman of the drugs company last month, is to retire “with immediate effect,” the company said on Monday.

Mr Gowrie had decided to bring forward the date of retirement to ensure that the only proposal for shareholders to consider at the impending extraordinary meeting was “whether Mr Thian is suitable to become executive chairman of SkyePharma,” the company said.

SkyePharma went on to say: “It is the board’s strong opinion that Mr Thian is not suited to this role as he does not have the right experience and because it will conflict with his existing taxing commitments.”

Bob Thian, head of Whatman, the separation and filtration technology group, is the favoured candidate among rebel shareholders for the top job at the company which has come under pressure following a disappointing performance and an unpopular rights issue.

However, SkyePharma earlier this month promoted Argeris “Jerry” Karabelas to chairman setting the board against the dissidents. The rebel group claims to speak for investors holding 37 per cent of SkyePharma and has asked for an EGM.

Mr Gowrie-Smith became the first scalp in a battle for control of the company between the existing board and dissident shareholders including North Atlantic Value, Insight Investment and Morley fund management which claim to speak for investors holding 37 per cent of SkyePharma shares.

Shares in SkyePharma rose ½p in early trade to 41¾p in early trade in London.

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