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Cenkos quits as Stobart's broker over 'untenable' position in boardroom battle

Cenkos has resigned as joint broker of Stobart Group after claiming its position was “untenable” as the boardroom battle between the company’s chairman and former boss intensifies.
The Aim-listed broker said it had a historical working relationship with Andrew Tinkler, the former chief executive who is seeking to oust chairman Iain Ferguson in a boardroom coup backed by fund manager Neil Woodford.
“We have a longstanding relationship with Andrew Tinkler, and considering Stobart’s current boardroom issues we find our position untenable and have therefore resigned as joint broker,” a spokesman said.
Stobart's other broker is Stifel, which said it would stick with the firm. However, sources close to the company conceded there was a risk it too could resign if Mr Tinkler is successful.
The decision comes just a day after Stobart released a statement to the stock market claiming it had rejected a series of demands from Mr Tinkler in the past 12 months that the former boss refutes.
These included an alleged request for an ?8m bonus and a proposed related party transaction associated with its aborted bid to acquire the budget airline Flybe earlier this year.
Cenkos quits as Stobart's broker over 'untenable' position in boardroom battle

Former Stobart Group boss Andrew Tinkler says it is necessary to unseat chairman Iain Ferguson to keep the company's strategy on track

Credit:
Mulholland
The company also claimed Mr Tinkler proposed taking Stobart Group private when the shares were below 120p, a level last seen in the first half of 2016. The shares fell 6pc on Wednesday to 223p on the back of Cenkos’s resignation, adding to the drops seen earlier in the week as the boardroom battle ramped up.
Mr Tinkler, who remains a director on the board, spends half his time on Stobart Capital, an advisory venture independent of Stobart Group but which licenses its name.
Stobart Group also alleged Mr Tinkler was now in dispute with the co-founder of Stobart Capital, former Cenkos banker Ian Soanes.
Stobart Group
Mr Tinkler hit back at Stobart Group’s claims, stating that his motive for shaking up the board was to “ensure that the company sticks to the agreed company strategy".
"This strategy is best executed and underpinned by strong corporate governance standards,” he said. “My view is that a change of chairman would help to achieve that objective, and I know that view is shared by a number of major shareholders.”
Mr Tinkler, who stepped down as chief executive last year, criticised Mr Ferguson for bringing their dispute into the public domain, adding: “I warned the chairman and his supporters on the board that the announcement issued [on Tuesday] contains false and defamatory material about me, and information regarding the company that I consider to be misleading.
"Nevertheless, the chairman and his supporters authorised the release of the announcement containing that material. I think that amply demonstrates a lack of prioritisation of company strategy and shortcomings in corporate governance standards, illustrating some of the reasons why I believe that a change of chairman is required."
Cenkos quits as Stobart's broker over 'untenable' position in boardroom battle

Stobart Group owns Southend airport alongside other infrastructure assets it owns and operates

Credit:
PA
A spokesman for Woodford Investment Management declined to comment on its involvement in the dispute. With Mr Woodford and Mr Tinkler’s stake, alongside the support of another investor, nearly a third of shareholders are set to vote against Mr Ferguson at the annual general meeting next month.
Invesco Asset Management, Mr Woodford’s former employer, accounts for nearly a quarter of the register in support.
The company has warned that sacking the chairman would destabilise it and reignite the infighting that dogged the firm until 2013.
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