March 9: The rebel SkyePharma shareholders have been defeated in their attempt to install Bob Thian on the board at today’s EGM. The rebels, led by Christopher Mills’s North Atlantic Value, won 47 per cent of the votes cast. In terms of the number of shareholders voting, SkyePharma said only 23 per cent voted for the resolution and 77 per cent against. Our correspondent was there with a photographer, so we’ll bring you all the colour from the meeting in tomorrow’s paper.
Paul Myners is returning to fund management, the industry from where (it seems a long time ago) he hailed. The former chairman of Gartmore is going to chair and invest in a management buy-out of a fund of hedge funds business called Liberty Ermitage.
Fresh from taking over Reg Vardy, Pendragon has launched a hostile bid for its rival car dealership, Lookers. But what is particularly interesting is that Pendragon is holding a gun to investors’ heads by making its offer a final one from the outset. I can’t think of this ever having happened before. The normal 60-day takeover timetable has been shortened to just 21 days (after the offer document is filed). Also unusual is the fact that Pendragon had made it clear it will proceed even if it only gets support from just over 50 per cent of the shares, rather than the more customary 90 per cent.
British Airways is preparing to start trying to grow again, after years of tidying itself up. Chief executive Willie Walsh told investors today that BA intended to achieve an operating margin of 10 per cent in the year to March 2008, helped by a £450m cost-cutting drive announced today. Read Lex online.
Center Parcs is being bought by Blackstone, the private equity firm that also owns Legoland. What is particularly interesting is that this was floated as an accelerated initial public offering two years ago and is now being sold for 20 per cent less than the float price. In that time, the market has risen strongly.
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