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Johnston Press faces showdown with rebel shareholder in vote to install Alex Salmond as chairman

The board of Johnston Press have received a formal demand for a vote to install Alex Salmond as chairman, setting the scene for a potentially explosive confrontation between the newspaper publisher and its shareholders.
Christen Ager-Hanssen, the company’s biggest shareholder with a 20pc stake, issued the call for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) via his lawyers on Monday afternoon.
In the letter seen by The Telegraph the Norwegian proposes the removal of chairman Camilla Rhodes and non-executive director Mike Butterworth.
Two further resolutions propose the appointment of Mr Salmond and Steve Auckland, a veteran newspaper executive who Mr Ager-Hanssen wants to lead a major shake-up of Johnston Press operations. The company publishes the i, the Yorkshire Post and scores of local titles but has struggled under a heavy debt burden in the shift to digital news.
In a bid to out-manoeuvre the board, Mr Ager-Hanssen has also proposed that any new directors appointed before the EGM are also ousted.
The rebel shareholder had originally intended to seize control by ousting most of the board but has been forced to act more cautiously by a “poison pill” clause in the ?220m bond that has collapsed the stock market value of Johnston Press to only ?14m.
If new directors form the majority of the board but are not appointed by the existing directors the debt could become due immediately. The publisher could not afford to pay and would fall into the hands of its lenders.
Johnston Press faces showdown with rebel shareholder in vote to install Alex Salmond as chairman

Christen Ager-Hanssen has sent a formal demand for an EGM
Mr Ager-Hanssen has branded the mechanism a “breach of fiduciary duties” and on Monday evening said his lawyers were exploring whether members of the board could be sued for it.
He said: “We are taking a step-by-step approach now. We want to get our people on the board and see what they have done to Johnston Press.”
Although their removal would not give Mr Ager-Hanssen control of Johnston Press, both Ms Rhodes and Mr Butterworth are members of the board’s four-strong nominations committee. Replacing them could be key to further changes.
Mr Ager-Hanssen called on his targets to resign rather than face a shareholder vote he said he is confident of winning. His resolutions will require more than 50pc support.
Mr Salmond’s involvement in the Johnston Press coup has provoked a storm of controversy, particularly at the Scotsman, which he said had become “largely irrelevant” under the current management. The editor last week hit back, warning that the former First Minister could seek to tilt the 200-year-old title towards a Scottish nationalist agenda.
Johnston Press has 21 days to send shareholders notice of an EGM. The meeting must then be held within 28 days.
The company declined to comment.
A source close to the company said of Mr Ager-Hanssen: "This guy has had more flip flops than a beach shop. He's briefing all over the place but there's still no sign of a proper strategy."
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