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Brown calls Whistle's bluff

Filed: Wednesday, 19th November 2003
By: Graeme Howlett

Hammers Chairman Terry Brown has offered disgruntled shareholders the opportunity to oust him at an Extraordinary General Meeting, it was revealed today.

Brown this afternoon released a press statement via the club website in which he revealed that moves to raise a motion of no confidence in him and his board by the Whistle group at the forthcoming AGM were in vain, as any motions must be raised six weeks before a meeting.

Despite that Brown has offered his detractors the opportunity to call the motion to vote at an EGM, which would be specifically arranged for the one issue.

Brown's statement - which will have caught all by surprise - read:

"A Mr Mike Hanna, claiming to speak on behalf of a group of five shareholders in West Ham United plc calling themselves "Whistle" who collectively hold a total of 1,203 ordinary shares in the company (0.006% of the issued share capital), on Monday announced that his group had secured the support of sufficient shareholders to require a series of resolutions to be tabled at the company's AGM on 8th December 2003 proposing the removal of the three executive directors of the company, Terence Brown, Paul Aldridge and Nick Igoe.

"However the Companies Act 1985 stipulates that requisitions for members' resolutions must be deposited with the company no later than 6 weeks before the AGM. Mr Hanna appears to have misinterpreted the Act as the requisitions have not been deposited with the company within the correct time limit, and for this reason the resolutions proposed by Mr Hanna cannot be included within the business to be dealt with at the AGM.

"However, the company is prepared to facilitate a procedure whereby the resolutions can be voted on even though there is no obligation under company law for it to do so. The company has made an offer to Mr Hanna that it is prepared to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting to put the resolutions to shareholders.

"The company has made this offer in the interests of maintaining an open dialogue with all shareholders and because it does not wish to be seen to defeat Mr Hanna's proposals merely because of his failure to comply with the provisions of the Companies Act. The board will however vigorously defend its management record at any EGM so convened and is confident of winning the support of the vast majority of its shareholders.

"A further announcement will be made regarding the EGM once Mr Hanna has accepted the company's offer."

Quite clearly Brown remains hugely confident of winning any proposed vote - and rightly so, bearing in mind the vast majority of shares he and his allies command.

However, the offer of an EGM will be a surprise to many, who have accused Brown of avoiding adverse publicity in the past.

We'll have more for you on this story as it happens.

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