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[December 22, 2006]
Chairman out as rebels seize control of Spirent
(Evening Standard Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) JOHN WESTON was today sensationally ousted as chairman of telecoms testing firm Spirent in a coup led by an activist American shareholder that toppled more than half of the company's board of directors.
Former banker Ed Bramson, 55, has now effectively gained control of the company despite only directly controlling 15% of it via his Sherborne Investors group. Spirent's clients include most of the world's biggest telecoms companies from Cisco to Deutsche Telekom and Motorola.
Bramson is expected to take over as chairman with the support of three new directors chosen by him and voted on to the board today with the support of about 55% of the shares voted.
Weston, 54, who also chairs troubled NHS software supplier iSoft and once ran defence giant BAE, was accused of overseeing an underperforming company.
Today's change at the top pushed Spirent shares up 2p to 57p, giving the company a market value of GBP505 million, as investors anticipated it may now be broken up.
The other directors booted off were audit committee chairman Andrew Given and remuneration chairman Frederick D'Alessio. Directors Marcus Beresford and Kurt Hellstrom quit in protest.
Weston and his fellow ex-directors said in a statement: "This is a wholly inappropriate way to rearrange the governance of a public company. We also regret that the long-term future of a company appears to have been largely decided on the basis of the speculative potential for short-term share price gain."
Bramson's allies are Artemis and Credit Suisse Asset Management, which between them own a 10% stake in Spirent.
Copyright 2006 Evening Standard. Source: Financial Times Information Limited - Europe Intelligence Wire.
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