Lambs to the slaughter
A contrite and clearly uncomfortable chairman Gerry Grimstone took the stand – looking like a schoolboy caught with his hand in the biscuit tin, wishing he could be anywhere else.
He said he had lain awake at night re-examining the decisions that have devastated the share price and brought the company to the brink of sale. And it was easy to believe him.
Company founder Roger Brooke spoke from the floor of his personal hurt and sadness at the damage to the company’s reputation.
“I do find it odd that the board was not aware there was a financial crisis,” added his co-founder and past chairman Stephen Curran.
Other shareholders expressed their polite astonishment at the “lack of foresight” from the board of directors, and questioned how the listed parent could have made a 1 bln euro commitment to the Candover 2008 fund last August without having any say in how of when the money was spent.
“We were wrong, the board was wrong, they were wrong,” said Grimstone, indicating that too much money was invested by Candover funds in 2008 and too little more was returned to investors.
Another shareholder asked whether the board had followed the market like sheep in borrowing to fund its commitment.
“If so you should be rounded up and put in sheep dip,” he said.
“I have never been sheep-dipped – it doesn’t sound a very pleasant process,” grimaced Grimstone.