Activist investor Coast Capital has launched an excoriating attack on FirstGroup after the transport giant rebuffed its attempts to shake up the board.
Coast issued a lengthy statement denying accusations made by the Aberdeen based group, which had described the US shareholder as an “opportunistic, self-interested player that is only focused on short-term gains”.
Coast had put forward six would-be directors to replace FirstGroup board members whom it blames for “breathtaking value destruction and and underperformance in every division of the company”.
But FirstGroup, which runs bus services across the UK and US, accused it of being naive in its suggestions for the business and claimed they would not be in shareholders’ best interests.
Coast CIO James Rasteh said: “Under their stewardship, the share price has nose-dived by over 25%.
“Our latest research proves their chronic mismanagement has cost shareholders almost £750 million in total losses – including impairments, restructuring charges, and insurance reserve charges. This exceeds the amount raised in the 2013 equity rights issuance.
“It’s unbelievable. But it’s true.”
Coast insists that its nominees would be completely independent and would bring transport industry expertise to the business that “any business would be lucky to be able to call on the services of even one of these candidates”.
Rasteh added: “The company’s slanderous ad-hominem attacks are indicative of an unprofessional chairman and unprofessional and unqualified CEO whose terrible track record leaves them with only slander to deal.”
He also denied that Coast was “only focused on short-term gains”, claiming Coast was, the only investor to oppose a takeover bid by Apollo Global Management in 2018.