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30 Mar 2021 | 10:13

Dignity urges shareholders to vote against chairman ousting

(Sharecast News) - Funeral services company Dignity called on its investors on Tuesday to vote against attempts by its biggest shareholder - Phoenix Asset Management Partners - to oust chairman Clive Whiley. In a letter to shareholders, Dignity noted that on 10 March, Phoenix, which owns a 29.9% stake, served a requisition notice seeking to remove Whiley as executive chairman and replace him with the chief investment officer of Phoenix, Gary Channon.

"The timing of the requisition notice is hard to comprehend, given the good progress on the group's strategy plans to date," Dignity said.

"The behaviour displayed by Phoenix in the run up to the requisition notice and in determining to serve it on the company at this time has led all three of the independent directors to form the view that Phoenix is not acting in the best interests of shareholders as a whole, but is instead driven primarily by its own self-interest."

Dignity argued that Phoenix is trying to exert executive control over the board, and thereby control of the company, without paying any bid premium. It said Phoenix's actions "show a willingness to act in a manner which does not respect the corporate governance principles applicable to public companies," it said.

The company said that should shareholders vote in favour of ousting Whiley, each of the independent directors "would not feel able to fulfil their respective roles on the reconstituted board with Gary Channon at the helm" and would feel compelled to resign.

This would have "the unfortunate and unwanted effect of further consolidating executive control in the hands of Phoenix," it added.

A meeting to vote on the issue will be held on 22 April.

At 1010 BST, the shares were down 3.9% at 636.00p.
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