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Barnett 1 Woodford 0 in FTSE 250 battle

Barnett 1 Woodford 0 in FTSE 250 battle

The saga of Neil Woodford’s bid to force change at FTSE 250 services company Stobart has ended in defeat, with his great rival Mark Barnett emerging victorious.

Mr Woodford has, via his funds, a 20 per cent stake in the business, while his successor as head of UK equities at Invesco, Mark Barnett, speaks for 25 per cent.

As FTAdviser previously reported, Mr Woodford, along with the Miton fund manager Gervais Williams, whose funds own 6 per cent of Stobart, had called for the replacement of Stobart’s chairman Iain Ferguson, and the reappointment to the board of Andrew Tinkler, a former chief executive.

Mr Barnett, along with funds managed by Royal London, voted to retain Mr Ferguson in his role.

The final result was a triumph for Mr Ferguson, who was re-elected with 51.2 per cent of shareholder votes.

Mr Tinkler was in fact re-elected to the board, but promptly sacked by the chairman, and so will not be a director.

Among the assets owned by Stobart Group is Southend Airport.

Mr Woodford had said he wanted change because he wanted Mr Tinkler to play a greater role in the management of the business, he described Mr Tinkler as providing “creative and entrepreneurial leadership”.

He also criticised the board of Stobart for making the dispute public.

Mr Barnett has declined to comment on the reasons for taking the stance he has.

The result of the vote was announced on Saturday evening. Since the stock market opened this morning (9 July) the shares have risen 4.3 per cent.

david.thorpe@ft.com