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Under-fire Lakehouse calls on Mark Slater to reveal plans

Social housing contractor says rebel shareholders led by star fund manager Mark Slater have failed to detail their plans for the company.

 
Under-fire Lakehouse calls on Mark Slater to reveal plans

Under-fire social housing contractor Lakehouse (LAKE) has dismissed the shareholder revolt led by star fund manager Mark Slater, arguing its agitators have failed to provide any details on their plans for the company.

Lakehouse has issued a circular to shareholders urging them to vote against proposals from Slater, a major backer of the company, and Steve Rawlings, Lakehouse's founder, to replace the company's three non-executive directors.

Slater (pictured) and Rawlings are calling for Chris Geoghegan, Jill Ainscough and Jonathan Ford to be removed from the board. Rawlings is putting himself forward as a non-executive, alongside Ric Piper, former finance director at engineering group WS Atkins (ATKW) and activist investor Robert Legget, managing director of fund group Progressive Value Management.

Lakehouse has accused the Slater and Rawlings of failing to provide any information on their plans for the company. 'If the requisitionists have a clear plan, let's hear it. That's all we are asking for,' said chief executive Stuart Black. 'We haven't seen any evidence of a plan for what they want to do.'

Citywire AAA-rated manager Slater holds Lakehouse in his Slater Growth and Income funds, having bought the company when it floated last year.

Since then, shares in the company have halved, after it warned last month that profits were likely to fall this year as social housing landlords hold back on spending. The shares fell a further 7%,to 45p today as investors digested the circular.

Black claimed he had been in dialogue with Slater Investments up until yesterday and had proposed compromises, but they had been rejected by the fund group.

'I do find there is an irony that Mark Slater is a champion of the small company business, and he is the one putting us under significant pressure,' he said.

'My only disappointment is this whole process is taking our attention away from dealing with those external challenges.'

Lakehouse also launched an attack on Rawlings, claiming his track record as a director since 2012 'does not suggest that he has the necessary skill set to be able to provide a meaningful contribution to the board or group going forward'.

'Although nominally "chief executive", Steve Rawlings did not attend a single board meeting during the three years prior to the initial public offering and did not have any involvement with the board decisions taken relating to the strategic direction of the group and its day-to-day operations,' said the board in its circular.

Lakehouse also questioned whether Piper would be able to devote enough time to Lakehouse alongside his other director positions and said Legget lacked listed company board experience.

Chairman Chris Geoghegan added that the three replacements put forward for the board would 'result in all the non-executive directors representing only one particular group of Lakehouse shareholders in preference to other Lakehouse shareholders'.

Slater Investments said in a statement: 'We note the statement from the board and we will be releasing our letter to Lakehouse shareholders shortly'.

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