Two more major Premier Foods shareholders have reportedly indicated they will vote against the re-election of the UK manufacturer’s CEO, Gavin Darby, at the Mr Kipling maker’s AGM next week.

US investment management firm Paulson & Co. and another, unnamed shareholder told UK newspaper The Sunday Telegraph they will not support Darby continuing his five years as Premier chief executive.

Orkun Kilic, a portfolio manager at Paulson, told the newspaper: “The company desperately needs new management who are willing to put stakeholders’ benefits first and we hope this upcoming AGM will be a reflection point.”

The other investor underlined it planned to vote against Darby and pointed to McCormick & Co.’s failed move for Premier two years ago, which saw the US group walk away from the table after the UK firm rejected its advances.

“We plan to vote against Gavin Darby’s re-election. After the failed McCormick bid, we don’t think he can be trusted,” the unnamed shareholder was quoted as saying.

just-food approached Premier for comment but officials representing the company had not replied at the time of writing.

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Paulson – a critic of Premier’s stance on McCormick’s approach in the spring of 2016 – today (9 July) disclosed it had taken its stake in the UK business from 1.99% to 6.08%.

The investor’s share purchase makes it Premier’s third-largest shareholder, behind another on the roster pushing for change, Hong Kong fund Oasis Management, which owns 9.1% of the Bisto maker.

Premier’s biggest shareholder is Japan-based food manufacturer Nissin Foods Holdings, with a 19% stake. So far, it has refused to be drawn publicly on the criticism of Darby. Premier’s AGM is set for 18 July.

just-food Opinion: Scrutiny will only intensify even if Premier CEO gets re-elected