Investor Kelso to vote against THG chair Charles Allen

Activist investor Kelso Group Holdings plc said it will vote against the re-election of THG plc chair Charles Allen next month, in protest at the Manchester-based online retailer’s lack of “action and clarity” on strategy and maximizing the value of its shares.

Kelso said that as chair, Allen was “ultimately responsible” for THG’s strategy and should be held accountable. THG’s shares have plummeted more than 90% over the past five years, trading at 73.39p on Wednesday.

Consumer brands giant THG is Kelso’s largest investment, holding about 5.5 million shares. The investor said on Monday it believed the shares trade at a “significant discount” to the value of the sum of its parts, paying what it called a “conglomerate discount”.

Kelso is protesting THG’s failure to execute its plans to allow individual divisions of the company to attract investment through their own public listings or partnerships. “There has been no demonstrable public progress on this front,” Kelso said in a statement.

Kelso is also campaigning for THG to move to the London Stock Exchange’s Premium List from its current Standard List. That would likely mean joining the FTSE 250 index, widely used as a benchmark for major UK investors, which should spur demand for the stock.

THG has made no progress on such a switch, despite committing to it in 2021, saying it would wait for the conclusion of an ongoing review by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority on merging the LSE’s Standard and Premium lists. Kelso said THG’s board should “take control of the timing of this value-accretive decision.”

“Whilst major strategic and structural issues remain unaddressed, the poor share price cannot be blamed on the London Stock Exchange,” Kelso said. “As a result of the lack of progress we plan to vote against the Chair at the upcoming AGM.”

THG’s annual general meeting is scheduled for June 24.