Premier Foods defends Darby against Oasis attack

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Premier Foods CEO Gavin Darby has faced criticism from shareholders
Premier Foods CEO Gavin Darby has faced criticism from shareholders
Premier Foods has lent further support to chief executive officer Gavin Darby following criticism from shareholder Oasis Management Ltd.

In a shareholder circular, Premier Foods vehemently rejected the statements made by Oasis Management Ltd last week.

Premier Foods outlined Darby’s work since he took over the role in February 2013.

“Gavin Darby has been successfully transforming Premier Foods throughout a challenging industry back-drop by undertaking significant cost and efficiency initiatives, properly integrating the businesses which had previously been acquired, introducing modern sales and marketing processes and establishing positive relationships with customers.

“The business has progressed and is leveraging key strategic partnerships with Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd (with noodles) and Mondelez International (with Cadbury cakes), which has substantially increased the rate of innovation and new product development and is driving rapid international expansion.”

Keith Hamill, Premier Foods' chairman, said: "The Board believes that Gavin Darby is running the Company well. In contrast, the Oasis proposal offers no constructive solution to the challenges being addressed and involves the risk of creating instability at a time when continuity is important in completing the work being done. The Board unanimously recommends that shareholders vote in favour of Gavin Darby's re-election as CEO at the AGM on the 18 July 2018."

Oasis criticism

In a statement last week, Oasis called for Darby to be removed with immediate effect and replaced with chief financial officer Alastair Murray. Oasis, which holds 9.34% of shares in Premier Foods, claimed that Darby has “set and missed multiple targets over the last five years”​ and has been responsible for “poor corporate governance”.

A spokesperson for Oasis said: “Gavin Darby has overseen five years of failure which has led to considerable destruction of shareholder value. The equity market has long lost faith in his leadership, and in our view his self-interest and selfpreservation, which we will no doubt see much of over the coming weeks, have driven a culture which does not respect the interests of shareholders.

“Gavin Darby, who frustratingly has driven Premier Foods into its current zombie-like state, has no credible strategy to return Premier Foods to growth and as the largest independent shareholder, we have completely lost faith in him. It is time for change. Long suffering shareholders need new energy, leadership and fresh ideas. The status quo is no longer tenable.”

The Premier Foods AGM is set for 18 July 2018.

Related topics: Ambient foods, Bakery, People & Skills

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