R&Q’s third-largest shareholder Slater Investments has given its backing to executive chairman William Spiegel to continue in his role, in what could be a decisive moment following the launch of an activist campaign to oust him earlier this month.
The support of Slater, which holds an 11.7 percent stake in the company, means Spiegel’s backers now represent more than 30 percent of R&Q’s shareholder base.
Spiegel had previously received the backing of Vida Capital, which holds a ~9 percent stake, as well as Aberdeen Standard Investments (Abrdn) (6.2 percent) and J O Hambro (~5 percent).
R&Q’s second-largest shareholder, Phoenix Asset Management, had launched the activist campaign on 12 August issuing a request for a special general meeting (SGM) and calling for Spiegel to be replaced with company founder Ken Randall on an interim basis.
The campaign to remove Spiegel subsequently drew the support of R&Q’s largest shareholder Brickell – the insurance arm of Miami investor 777 Partners – which holds a 12.7 percent stake in the company.
In a statement, Slater said it does not intend to support Phoenix’s resolutions and would vote against them at the SGM.
Slater also voiced its support for the appointment of Robert Legget, unveiled earlier today as a senior non-executive director at R&Q.
“We have the highest regard for Robert having worked with him previously. We also note the intention to appoint a new non-executive chair. We believe that their appointments are the best way to address the governance of the business,” Slater said in a statement.
Another top-10 shareholder in the firm, who did not want to be named, is understood to also be backing Spiegel.
“If a group of shareholders wants to take control of the company, they should bid for it at a fair valuation,” the shareholder said.
The campaign to oust Spiegel began just 16 months after he succeeded Randall as executive chairman, a period which has seen an aborted £482mn ($605mn) buyout bid by Brickell as well as accounting and reserving challenges.
However, his tenure has also seen continued success in the group’s program business, as well as an acceleration of the company’s strategy to be less capital intensive and an overhaul of senior management.