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Van Elle – General Meeting requisition from founder seeking to return

By Steve Moore | Monday 13 November 2017

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Van Elle Holdings (VANL) listed on AIM at 100p per share little more than a year ago, with at the time Chairman Michael Ellis “absolutely delighted to have successfully brought Van Elle to the AIM market… there is significant opportunity ahead and admission to trading on AIM will help us to accelerate the growth of the business” and Chief Executive Jon Fenton; “I look forward to reporting on our progress as we embark on the next stage of our exciting journey”. Less than two months later it was announced that Ellis was to retire… but he is now seeking to return...

This comes with the shares, having reached 138.5p early this year, closing last week at 94p and there having been a profit warning less than five months after the AIM listing. That saw earnings per share come in below expectations, an approaching 25% reduction in forecasts (to 12p) for the now current year and similar (to 13.5p) for next year.

Now Ellis - with a 14.5% shareholding – has requisitioned a General Meeting to seek the re-appointment of himself and Thomas Lindup as directors and removal as directors of Jon Fenton and Senior Independent Director Robin Williams.

Van Elle’s AIM admission document described Ellis as a “chartered structural engineer with 40 years’ experience in ground engineering. Mr. Ellis founded Van Elle in 1984 and has overseen the group’s development since its inception”. Ellis’ son-in-law and a qualified corporate lawyer Lindup was Managing Director on admission, having joined the company in 2015 after 13 years at Sidley Austin LLP where he worked on a variety of private equity and capital markets corporate transactions. He “left the company to pursue new opportunities” in March.

Jon Fenton is a chartered civil engineer who had previously worked for the company and returned in 2010, assuming the Chief Executive role and Robin Williams, with over 30 years’ experience in listed companies initially as an adviser and then as a senior executive, became Senior Independent Director following Ellis’ departure.

A further trading update is to be provided “later this month” and the company notes it “has until 29 November 2017 to send a circular to shareholders convening the shareholder meeting and will issue this in due course”. I await this further information with interest, but for now continue to remain on the sidelines here.

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