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Drinks

Stock Spirits Top Shareholder Calls For Removal Of Chairman

Vodka maker Stock Spirits Group Plc's largest shareholder on Monday called for the removal of its chairman, David Maloney, and senior independent director, John Nicolson, raising questions about the company's dividend and M&A strategy.

Western Gate Private Investments Ltd, which in 2016 had successfully ousted the spirits maker's CEO for poor financial performance, said the company continues to 'suffer from the Board's lack of clear growth strategy' and declines in market share in regions like Poland, Italy and Czech Republic.

Stock Sprits, which makes three-quarters of its revenue from Poland and Czech Republic, had said earlier this month that trading in 2017 was slightly ahead of its expectations.

Independent Replacement

The private equity firm, which hold a 10% stake in Stock Spirits and represents the private family office of Portuguese businessman Luis Amaral, has also called on Stock Spirits to appoint independent replacements for Maloney and Nicolson after a meeting with the chairman.

"In light of Stock Spirits' cash generation and unconvincing growth strategy, Western Gate calls upon the board to increase the dividend and or introduce a special dividend," Western Gate said in a statement.

Western Gate said it will bring the matter to shareholders for consideration, and will be voting against a company resolution that allows it to call general meetings at a shorter notice that rather than the statutory 21 days.

'Unanimous Support'

"Both David Maloney and John Nicolson continue to have the unanimous support of their colleagues on the Board," a spokesperson for Stock Spirits said in a statement.

M&G, the company's second-largest shareholder, did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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