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Former Eddie Stobart boss attacks ‘hypocrite’ rescuer

Eddie Stobart
DBay floated Eddie Stobart in 2017 after it was spun off from Stobart Group three years earlier

Former Eddie Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler has launched a stinging attack on the troubled trucking company’s biggest investor, calling it a “hypocrite” and blaming it for a strategy that has taken the firm to the brink.

Mr Tinkler hit out at a rescue deal led by Isle of Man-based investor DBay Advisors, backed by Eddie Stobart’s board, which is due to be put to a shareholder vote on Friday.

Late last week the company warned it would run out of cash if investors snubbed the DBay approach. Shares have been suspended since August, when the firm uncovered a major error in its accounts.

Mr Tinkler has lodged a rival offer though investment vehicle TVFB and provided further details on Monday. He declined to comment on whether his rescue has the critical support of Eddie Stobart’s four lenders.

His plan includes raising £80m from shareholders, of which £30m will be used to pay down loans of more than £200m owed to KBC, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and BNP Paribas.

Under DBay's plan, investors would hand the secretive investment firm a majority stake in the business in return for giving Eddie Stobart a £55m high-interest loan. 

Andrew Tinkler Credit:  Murdo MacLeod

Lenders have backed DBay's rescue, agreeing to lend the business another £20m and give it a year to fix its finances.

DBay warned investors that if they do not support its plan, "Eddie Stobart board will be faced with an imminent liquidity shortfall, imminent expiry of the existing waivers from the lenders relating to the breaches of the company’s credit facility and no support from the lenders to explore alternative options".

DBay floated Eddie Stobart in 2017 after the haulage business was spun off from London Southend Airport owner Stobart Group three years earlier.

As it prepared for a crunch investor vote on Friday, DBay bought an additional 17pc stake in Eddie Stobart from the administrators of Neil Woodford’s funds.

Mr Tinkler said DBay’s acquisition of Mr Woodford’s stake “was wholly hypocritical, given that the DBay proposal does not afford any meaningful value to other shareholders”.

Nevertheless, the former Eddie Stobart boss announced on Monday that he had bought 25 million shares at the same price as DBay – about 6p apiece.

He said DBay had been handed £152m as part of Eddie Stobart's 2017 float, and loaded it up with debt as well as squeezing profits.

Mr Tinkley said: “Under DBay's ownership, a strategy was implemented that has resulted in over-gearing and a reduction of operating margins.” 

DBay said: “DBay has a long and successful history with the business and it is with regret that we will be returning under these circumstances.

“Our belief in Eddie Stobart is reflected in the considerable effort we have put in to deliver a practical proposal and our decision to invest further, despite the problems it has faced since we stepped back from the board.”