Activist trust drives out ‘lacklustre’ chairman in matter of weeks

Only the second time the Woodford-backed fund has launched a boardroom battle

Activist investment trust Crystal Amber has driven the chairman of vehicle hire business Northgate to exit the post ahead of a shareholder vote on his future.

On Friday afternoon, the £205.7m closed-ended fund, a holding within Woodford Equity Income, said it welcomed the resignation of Andrew Page.

Less than a month ago, it called for the resignation of the “lacklustre” chairman and requisitioned a general meeting for a shareholder vote on his position to take place later this month. At the time, fund manager Richard Bernstein (pictured) said: “He has presided over multiple profit warnings, a culture of inept communications with the market and, in our view, has failed to ensure there is the right mix of skills and experience on the board.”

It was the second time in the investment trust’s 11 years it had requisitioned a meeting to change a board.

Northgate’s replacement for Page

Northgate informed the market of Page’s resignation on Thursday and stated senior independent director Bill Spencer would become interim chairman.

Crystal Amber said it expects Northgate to consult with shareholders on Page’s permanent replacement.

In a regulatory filing, it stated it looked forward to a new chair being identified “ideally with relevant industry experience, who will be focused on delivering the best outcome for Northgate’s stakeholders, including recognising and being open to releasing Northgate’s strategic value”.

Page joined Northgate’s board in December 2014 becoming chairman the following September.

Spencer said in a statement: “He has run the board with immense skill, playing a pivotal role in rebuilding the foundations of Northgate and steering the company through a period of strategic change. His significant contributions include strengthening the board, appointing a new executive management team and overseeing the implementation of a revitalised strategy. Throughout Andrew’s tenure the company has benefitted from his wise counsel. The board remains fully supportive of the executive management team and the strategy in place.”

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