Premier Foods PLC (LON:PFD) saw its shares rise on Tuesday on reports its top shareholder is backing the food company's under-fire CEO, even as its second-largest investor and vocal critic hedge fund group Oasis Management revealed it has nearly doubled its stake to vote against Gavin Darby.
A stock exchange filing today showed Oasis has raised its holding in Premier Foods to 17.3% from 9.09% ahead of the group's annual meeting on 18 July, which could determine the fate of its chief executive.
Meanwhile a corrected shareholding statement from Monday, showed another critic, Wall Street Hedge fund Paulson & Co had actually trimmed its stake in Premier Foods to 6.08% as of 6 July, down from 7.5% previously, against an initial report that its holding had increased.
Darby has been asked to step down as the CEO of the company by Hong-Kong based Oasis Management which recently that it has “completely lost faith” in the 61-year-old and would be voting against his reappointment at next month’s annual general meeting.
Oasis has urged other shareholders to do the same. Last week Oasis also called for Premier to sell its well-known Batchelors soup brand to improve its financial outlook and create funds for investment.
However, voting advisory services, Glass Lewis and Pensions & Investments Research Consultants, have urged Premier shareholders to vote in favour of Darby's re-election.
Nissin to back Darby
Meanwhile, Reuters reported today that Japanese noodle maker Nissin Foods Holdings, Premier's largest shareholder with a 19.75% stake, intends to vote in favour of Darby at next week’s meeting, according to a Premier Food's spokesman said today.
The newswire said Nissin did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Premier has a partnership with Nissin for its Batchelors noodles products.
Premier Foods - which owns household brands such as Mr Kipling cakes, Angel Delight desserts and Bisto gravy maker - has been under pressure since it rejected a 65p per share offer from the US food-maker McCormick in 2016,with the shares having fallen by more than 23% since then.
In late afternoon trading on Tuesday, the FTSE Small Cap firm’s shares were 6.5% higher at 44.75p.