Countryside Properties shareholder Browning West calls for chair to be ousted
Countryside Properties said on Wednesday that it "remains focused on acting in the best interests" of its shareholders after Browning West - which owns a 9.4% stake in the company - said it wants a seat on the board and suggested the housebuilding arm be sold to let the Partnerships business prosper.
Browning West, which is Countryside's third largest shareholder, said its founder and chief investment officer, Usman Nabi, should be added to the board and a search to replace chair David Howell should be initiated. It said the company should seek candidates with experience as a CEO, a track record of value creation, and evidence of success in M&A and capital allocation.
Countryside operates two divisions: Partnerships and Housebuilding. Browning West said the Partnerships business is the "crown jewel" and urged the company to "let Partnerships prosper".
It said the new chair should work with the reinvigorated board to "urgently address three key issues: (i) reassess the current operating plan to see if there is an opportunity to improve return on capital employed and margins in 2021 and 2022, (ii) initiate a process to thoughtfully execute the separation of Housebuilding to create a stand-alone Partnerships business, and (iii) construct a prudent capital allocation policy that significantly reduces the risk of any future equity offerings and maximises total long-term returns for all shareholders".
In a brief statement in response to Browning West’s suggestions, Countryside said: "We maintain an ongoing dialogue with our shareholders and listen carefully to the views they express."
The company is due to publish its full-year results on Thursday.