Activist investor Coast Capital tried to remove six of 11 board members
Thursday 27 Jun 2019 Author: Yoosof Farah

Billed as an existential dust-up between transport operator FirstGroup (FGP) and its biggest shareholder Coast Capital, it is the former who has won after seeing off an attempt by the activist investor to remove six of its directors.

The Wall Street hedge fund couldn’t get the backing from 50% of voting shareholders that it needed in an extraordinary general meeting, despite reports that other top investors would vote in favour.

Coast had called for the removal of chairman Wolfhart Hauser and chief executive Matthew Gregory as well as four other of the 11 directors on the board.

Hauser’s days could still be numbered after nearly 30% voted for his removal. Historically bosses with such votes against them have been pressured into resigning.

Coast and FirstGroup clashed over the company’s strategy. Coast wants FirstGroup to get out of the troublesome rail sector and sell off its highly profitable American school bus division.

But FirstGroup would rather sell off the less profitable parts, like its coach service Greyhound, and argues the company’s pension deficit would soar if it sold off the best bits.

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