Vanda Murray has been appointed chairman at engineering firm Fenner, although the group said it “strongly opposes” a board appointment sought by Swiss investment firm Teleios Capital Partners.
The Hessle-based firm said Ms Murray has agreed to take up the role of non-executive chairman with immediate effect, having been the acting non-executive chairman since June.
Last Friday Fenner received a request from Teleios to approve the appointment of Michael E. Ducey as a non-executive director of the company at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting due to be held on January 11.
On Tuesday the group said its board of directors strongly opposes the appointment of Mr Ducey, as it does not believe “he would be additive in terms of skills, experience and background and the board does not consider him to be independent of the shareholder nominating him“.
It added: “The board does not believe that his appointment would be in the interests of Fenner shareholders.
“Furthermore, the ongoing search process for a new CEO has been materially disrupted by the current shareholder activity to elect Mr Ducey to the board.“
While the search for a new CEO candidate continues, Mark Abrahams has agreed to remain as CEO in order to preserve stability.
The group said it has started a search for a new independent non-executive director who will be a complementary fit and with a background in Fenner’s growth sectors and a strong track record.
“The board believes that together these changes are the best way to build on the progress and momentum achieved over the last year,” the firm said.
Ms Murray has been an independent non-executive director of the company since January 2012.
Fenner said that her selection as independent non-executive chairman follows a rigorous process using external head-hunters and the process was overseen by non-executive director Chris Surch on behalf of the board.
Commenting on her appointment, Ms Murray said: “I am delighted to have been asked by the board to accept the role of chairman. I am committed to taking the company forward, building on the progress we are making and creating value for our shareholders.”
The group confirmed that Mr Surch has been appointed as the senior independent director and that Geraint Anderson will become the chairman of the remuneration committee.
Last month Fenner reported better than expected full year revenue helped by the collapse in the pound following the Brexit vote.
The group, which has been hit by the global commodity slump, said revenue fell 14 per cent to £572.5m in the year to August 31. Analysts were expecting revenue of £567m, so this was better than expected. The pound has fallen about 17 per cent against the dollar since Britain’s vote in June to leave the EU.
At the time of the results Mr Abrahams said: “The group’s results were ahead of our expectations at the time of the AGM in January 2016, assisted by currency. Management actions have started to outweigh market pressures. The group has made important progress in repositioning those businesses which have been most affected by market conditions.”