Premier Foods - shaken up its board

Premier Foods - shaken up its board

The UK's Premier Foods has announced a representative of the activist investment company that led a campaign to oust its chief executive last year has joined its board.

And it is conducting a "review of strategic options" after talking to its largest investors.

Oasis Management's Daniel Wosner will join the board as a non-executive director, as will Orkun Kilic of Paulson & Co., another activist investor who called for change at the Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy maker.

Oasis is Premier's second largest shareholder - after Japan's Nissin Foods - with a 12.05% stake, while Paulson, the company's third largest investor, upped its stake to 12.04% earlier this month.

In a statement issued today (27 February), Premier Foods said: "Following discussions with its largest shareholders, the board of Premier Foods has decided to conduct a review of its strategic options for increasing shareholder value."

In other board changes, it said Simon Bentley, executive chairman of Cash on the Move, a UK mobile cash operator, will also be joining as a non-executive director and that, to facilitate these appointments, existing non-executive directors Ian Krieger and Jennifer Laing will be retiring from the board.

It said the changes will take place with immediate effect.

Keith Hamill, chairman of Premier Foods, said: "I would like to thank Ian Krieger and Jennifer Laing for their significant contribution to the board over the last six years."

Last year saw a bitter battle for control of Premier with activist investors calling for then CEO Gavin Darby to be removed and a change in strategy, including the sale of assets.

Last summer, a group of investors led by Oasis voted against Darby's re-election but he secured enough support at Premier's AGM in July to stay. However, four months later, he announced his decision to stand down.

But before doing so he oversaw plans to dispose of Premier's custard brand Ambrosia as part of a strategy to sell-off parts of the business in order to focus on areas that have the "most potential", and also to raise funds to pay down debt and invest further in the company. 

However, earlier this month Premier announced it had called off the Ambrosia sale, saying a disposal at this time would not garner a "satisfactory financial outcome".

Wosner, a UK national, is managing director and head of Europe at Hong Kong-based Oasis. He oversees the firm's UK and Continental European investments.

It will be his second spell as a non-executive director at Premier having previously sat on the board between March 2017 and March 2018.