Two chairmen heading for the exit

This week will see at least one chairman walking the plank and another almost certain to do so, both in the face of unhappy shareholders.

Ian Gowrie-Smith will be stepping down from the board of SkyPharma, the drug firm he has chaired for all but three weeks of the last 11 years.

In the view of shareholders Gowrie-Smith, has failed to deliver promises of growth and profits.

A former mining entrepreneur, he has spent 20 years trying to build a pharmaceutical business in London. In the 1980s he created Medva, a stockmaket star unil 1993, when it was hit by manufacturing-quality concerns. Sky, despite early promise, has followed a similar path.

Dissident shareholders will also be trying to unseat Derek Lewis, chairman of Patientline, which operates bedside telephony and television in hospitals. Patientline has more than £80 million in debts and losses of nearly £30 million since its flotation in 2001.

In the early days of his career, Lewis was Chief Executive of the Granada Group who subsequently led the team that created UK Gold Television.  He was appointed Director-General of the Prison Service of  England and Wales in 1993.  Two years later he was controversial dismissed by Michael Howard, the then Home Secretary and eventually won £250,000 in an unfair dismissal claim.

An extraordinary general meeting has been called by unhappy shareholders who are claiming nearly 50% support for Lewis’ dismissal and so Lewis looks like following Gowrie-Smith out of the door.

Thanks for reading Bid Business.

David Davis


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