Premier Foods has said the company’s largest shareholder, Japan’s Nissin Foods Holdings, is to back the UK manufacturer’s under-pressure CEO Gavin Darby when he is up for re-election next week.
Darby, who has been the Sharwood’s cooking sauces maker’s CEO for five years, has come in for fierce criticism from some on the company’s share roster.
In recent days, Premier’s second-largest investor, Hong Kong fund Oasis Management, has attacked the business’ performance under Darby and said it would vote against his re-election at the company’s AGM on 18 July. Two other major investors, US investment management firm Paulson & Co. and another unnamed shareholder, reportedly told The Sunday Telegraph over the weekend they believed Darby should go.
Oasis Management, meanwhile, had urged Nissin, which has commercial dealings with Premier as well as shares in the Batchelors noodles maker, to abstain in the vote.
However, this afternoon a Premier spokesperson confirmed to just-food Nissin had indicated it would support Darby’s re-election next week. Officials at Nissin’s HQ in Tokyo could not be reached out of office hours.
Oasis Management is calling for Darby to be replaced as CEO – a position he has held since 2013 – claiming he and his management team had “failed miserably”, with its approach to running the business, a claim refuted by Premier and 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.
just-food Opinion: Scrutiny will only intensify even if Premier CEO gets re-elected