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Top Mears Group investor wants chair appointed swiftly - letter

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By Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Activist investor Shareholder Value Management has called on Mears Group <MERG.L> to move swiftly to appoint a new chairman or it will call a fresh extraordinary general meeting, a letter to the company seen by Reuters showed.

The move is the latest in a long-running attempt by the German-based fund, Mears Group’s third-biggest investor, to push through a board change at the social housing maintenance and repair services provider.

After SVM called for the previous chair, Bob Holt, to be replaced, he said he would not stand for reelection. SVM then called an EGM to try and get its candidate, Andy Hogarth, elected to the board.

Mears Group initially refused to put Hogarth’s election to shareholders, before pledging to consider SVM’s plans, prompting SVM to withdraw its EGM. On July 24, Mears said a new chair would be appointed before end-October.

In a letter to Mears Group’s Senior Independent Director Julia Unwin dated Dec. 13, however, SVM investment director Gianluca Ferrari said he was frustrated a new chairman had not been announced to the market, some six weeks later.

Ferrari said the decision to withdraw the initial EGM was “predicated on a timely execution of a search for a Chairman,” and that SVM had “acted in good faith that Mears would uphold its end of the bargain”.

While acknowledging that Mears has been involved in several corporate actions, including a placing, that may have taken up management time, it now wanted to see action.

“We urge the Mears board to act swiftly and decisively and bring this process to a conclusion. If that cannot be achieved we will have little alternative but to resume our original stance in putting the matter to a shareholder vote.”

Mears Group was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by David Evans)