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Stock Spirits criticse top shareholder who seeks to oust CEO

Published:  12 April, 2016

Stock Spirits has hit back at its largest individual shareholder for trying to depose its chief executive officer while having a "conflict of interest".

Stock Spirits has hit back at its largest individual shareholder for trying to depose its chief executive officer while having a "conflict of interest".

Portuguese businessman Luis Amaral tried to stage a coup at the London-listed company last week, after shareholders' voiced support for replacing CEO Chris Heath.

The vodka-maker is currently in troubled waters with its Polish business, which accounts for more than half of its revenue.

However, Stock Spirits have hit back at Amaral, saying there is a conflict between his role on the board and with his role as CEO of Polish cash-and-carry business Eurocash.

A spokesman for Stock Spirits Group (SSG) said: "Western Gate [which represents the private family office of Amaral] has a conflict of interests because its controlling party, Luis Amaral, is also CEO and the largest shareholder in Eurocash, Stock Spirit Group's biggest customer in Poland. This means his interests may not be fully aligned with the long-term interests of the majority of shareholders."

Western Gate is calling for the removal of Heath, stating "the executive management team have run out of ideas about how to stem the ongoing market share losses".

It also wants to appoint two non-executive directors to its board amid concerns over the group's strategy to turn round its Polish operations.

The spokesman for SSG added that more developments are likely to be announced later in the week.

For now however, they are focusing on turning around its fortunes in Poland.

"Management's number one priority is returning its business in Poland to sustainable growth," he said. "There is clear evidence that the decisive actions taken last year are working. This could clearly be seen in the big improvement on H1 2015 in the second half of last year and that momentum has continued in the first quarter of 2016."