Under-fire Premier Foods CEO Gavin Darby has broken his media silence to say he is “quietly confident” of victory in his re-election vote at the UK company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday (18 July).

Speaking to The Sunday Times newspaper yesterday (15 July), Darby said he expects to win the vote.

He is under pressure from activist shareholders Oasis Management and Paulson & Co, Premier‘s second- and third-largest shareholders respectively, for the way he has run the company since taking over as CEO in 2013. They want him to be replaced as CEO in this week’s vote.

Hong Kong-based Oasis, which recently increased its stake in Premier to 17.3%, said Darby has led the firm – which makes Mr Kipling cakes, Oxo stock cubes and Sharwood’s cooking sauces – into a “zombie-like state” and overseen “persistent shareholder value destruction”.

However, Darby told The Sunday Times he believes activist investor plans to replace him on an interim basis with the company’s finance director and to sell off the Batchelors brand are “flawed” and added: “I’m quietly confident we will win.”

Darby appears to have the support of the company’s largest shareholder Nissin Foods Holdings, which has a stake of nearly 20% in Premier, while the chief executive has also been backed by the trustees of its three largest pension funds.

Three investor advisory groups – Institutional Shareholder Services, Pirc and Glass Lewis – have recommended Premier’s shareholders stand by Darby.