Victoria sees its shares plunge as formal sales process ditched

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SHARES in carpet maker Victoria fell six per cent last night after the group said it has decided to abort its formal sales process.

Victoria, which put itself up for sale in January, suspended the sales process last month after potential buyers expressed concerns about an activist investor looking to replace the board.

At the time, the company said it would suspend the sale process until after a general meeting called by an investor group led by former chairman Alexander Anton.

This general meeting was held on Tuesday and resulted in success for the investor group when four new non-executives were appointed to the board, moving the group a step closer to a change in control.

Victoria said that, with 67 per cent of proxy votes cast at the general meeting, Katherine Innes Ker, Alexander Anton, Geoff Wilding and Sir Bryan Nicholson were appointed to the board.

Ms Innes Ker has been appointed chairman and also chairman of the company’s remuneration and nominations committees. Sir Bryan has been appointed chairman of the audit committee.

The consortium attempting to take control of Victoria’s board has said its proposed changes will help realise the carpet manufacturer’s “enormous potential”.

The consortium is supported by New Fortress Finance, who with Mr Anton, called the general meeting.

The consortium claims the previous board had “failed to create meaningful value” and the replacements would bring “fresh impetus”.

The new board plans to grow the business both in the UK and Australia, tapping new markets in flooring. It also plans to sell non-core assets.

The consortium has previously said it has no plans to close down the UK business.

Kidderminster-based Victoria, which makes carpets and carpet tiles, spins yarn at its mill in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

Yesterday Victoria said it is no longer deemed to be in an offer period as defined by the takeover code, prompting its shares to fall 20p to 310p.

On Monday, independent non-executive directors’ chairman Nikki Beckett and senior independent director Peter Jensen resigned.