THE founder of troubled electric vehicle maker Tanfield Group, Roy Stanley, is returning to take day-to-day charge of the company following the collapse of its share price.
Experienced entrepreneur Mr Stanley has taken a back seat at Tanfield in recent months while he concentrated on building up his Darwen Group bus building business.
But now Mr Stanley, chairman of Tanfield Group, is returning in an executive role and it is understood he is initiating a “root and branch” review of the company.
Chief executive Darren Kell will work alongside Mr Stanley.
City analysts have been highly critical of Tanfield management in recent days, following a dramatic fall in the business’s share price which triggered an automatic London Stock Exchange Inquiry.
The company’s value has plunged from a peak of £700m last summer to just £18m on Friday, with shares changing hands for only 5p, though yesterday the stock made a small recovery to finish up 20% at 6p, valuing the business at £21.7m.
Yesterday, a source close to the company told The Journal: “Roy Stanley has been spending two days a week on Tanfield, but now he is back full time. He is looking to take a much more active role.”
There has also been concern about the company’s cash reserves dwindling to just £11m at the end of last month, when top executives had previously forecast the figure would be £18m. It is understood that Tanfield is now looking to appoint an independent auditor to verify its cash position, and calm City nerves.
Last week, institutional investors were reported to be seeking new leadership at Tanfield, and there were calls for the company to improve both its standards of disclosure and financial controls. One report claimed former Northern Rock boss Adam Applegarth was being lined up by investors to head up Tanfield Group.
The company refused to comment on the speculation, but sources close to the business said they were not aware of any contact being made with the former chief executive of the bank.
The investment company said to be behind an approach to Mr Applegarth – M&G, an arm of Prudential–- said there was no link with him. Mr Applegarth could not be contacted.
A spokeswoman for the London Stock Exchange explained why Tanfield was being looked at. She said: “Tanfield’s share price dropped quite considerably over the course of one day. We would investigate any company floated on AIM with an unusual share price movement.”
Concerns raised over cash-in
CONCERNS have been raised over a move last year by senior Tanfield executives to cash in on their share options, The Journal has learned.
Chairman Roy Stanley, chief executive Darren Kell and fellow director Brendan Campbell cashed in £10m worth of share options in the business ahead of the scheduled date of March, 2009.
This was in line with the company’s remuneration policy which states that if its market capitalisation – value on the stock market – grew to reach a certain size, then share options could be exercised early.
It is understood that concerns centre on the fact that the company grew to its inflated value at least partly due to the board issuing new shares to investors.
A spokesman for Tanfield Group said: “What you have to bear in mind is that any issue of shares has to be approved by shareholders. It’s completely above board in terms of what they are allowed to do.”