The Daily Telegraph

London insurer R&Q fends off activists

- By Simon Foy

A GROUP of activist investors have failed in their attempt to oust the boss of London-listed insurer R&Q.

Phoenix Asset Management and US investment group Brickell, two of R&Q’S largest shareholde­rs, last month called for executive chairman William Spiegel to be removed and replaced by Ken Randall, the company’s founder and former executive chairman.

However, at a special general meeting yesterday, two thirds of the company’s investors voted against removing Mr Spiegel and appointing Mr Randall.

Alastair Campbell, a non-executive director at R&Q, said: “We are pleased with the result of the meeting and would like to thank our shareholde­rs for their support.

“The certainty provided by this outcome means that William, the board and the management team can now ensure their full focus is on executing against our strategy and delivering on our targets. The R&Q board will also continue with its priority of enhancing its compositio­n, including the appointmen­t of an independen­t non-executive chairman as soon as possible.”

Mr Spiegel has only led the life insurer, previously known as Randall & Quilter, since April 2021. He took over from Mr Randall upon his retirement.

A raft of top investors publicly backed Mr Spiegel before the vote. J O Hambro, a top five investor in R&Q, said that any change to the company’s strategy or executive leadership team would be counterpro­ductive.

Slater Investment­s, which holds nearly 12pc of the company’s shares, and Abrdn, which holds 6pc, also rejected calls to oust the chairman.

In August, Phoenix and Brickell said they had lost confidence in Mr Spiegel’s leadership due to the “deteriorat­ing” performanc­e of the business.

In May, a proposed £482m takeover of R&Q by Brickell imploded amid a backlash from investors.

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