Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

In a dramatic last-minute development, engineering group Murray & Roberts (M&R) was forced to withdraw resolutions relating to the re-election of four board directors shortly before Thursday’s annual general meeting (AGM). This was to avoid their re-election being blocked by German investment firm Aton, which holds a 44% stake in M&R. The withdrawal of the four resolutions is the latest skirmish in a drawn-out, hostile battle for control of M&R, which was once one of the country’s most powerful construction firms. It follows this week’s ruling by the Competition Appeal Court allowing Aton to vote most of its M&R shares. The privately owned German company, which had bought an initial stake in M&R in 2015, made an offer for control in April 2018, by which time it had a stake of 29.99%. By early June, after offering R17 a share, Aton had increased its holding to 44%. The independent board of M&R has consistently urged shareholders to reject the offer and says a “fair-value price range”...

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