Stobart swings to loss as boardroom battle heads to court

Shares in Stobart nosedived after the troubled infrastructure group swung to a half-year loss as a bitter boardroom row rumbles on in the courts.

The firm, which owns Southend Airport, posted a £17.5 million loss in the first six months of the year, compared with a profit of £111.9 million in 2017.

Stobart said the poor figures were due to investment in Southend Airport route development and marketing.

Shares tumbled more than 7% to 199p in morning trade.

In better news, revenue grew 21.4% to £151.3 million, boosted by the performance of aviation security.

Eddie Stobart sold for £138m
Eddie Stobart sold for £138m

But the figures are likely to be overshadowed by a boardroom dispute now being played out in the High Court between Stobart and former chief executive Andrew Tinkler, who attempted to boot out chairman Iain Ferguson earlier this year.

Mr Tinkler was trying to install retail boss Philip Day in his stead in a bid backed by a fund controlled by star investor Neil Woodfood and Allan Jenkinson, a former Stobart director.

Mr Ferguson narrowly survived the shareholder vote on his re-election at the the company’s contentious annual general meeting (AGM), but said he would step down in any case.

Stobart is now suing Mr Tinkler, accusing him of conspiring to harm the company’s interests.

It has also made claims about money spent on air travel, and wants a judge to rule that he was lawfully dismissed as an employee earlier this year.

Mr Tinkler, a former cabinet-maker who was chief executive of the business between 2007 and 2017, denies wrongdoing, saying he was removed for no good reason, and has counter-claimed.