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Hostile takeover bid sees green energy tycoons battle for power

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Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 09 August 2017 14:31

Hostile takeover bid sees green energy tycoons battle for power

Green energy tycoon and football club owner Dale Vince is at a centre of a controversial bid to muscle his way onto the board of a rival firm.

Mr Vince, former new age traveller and founder of major Stroud employer Ecotricity, has bought a 25 per cent stake in Wiltshire-based green energy firm, which is run by polo-playing Juliet Davenport, who also lives in Stroud.

And in a bold move he is now understood to have requested a meeting with the company to discuss a place on its board for himself and one other non-executive director, believed to be Simon Crowfoot.

The move has drawn a public rebuke from Good Energy, and draws into the frame potentially one of the biggest energy firms in the UK, Gloucester-based Tidal Lagoon Power, which happens to be owned by Ms Davenport’s husband.

“Having the owner and senior management of a direct competitor on our board would be unworkable.

“This action by Ecotricity is regrettable and we will be writing to shareholders setting out our position and the importance of voting against Ecotricity’s proposal,” said Good Energy’s chairman John Maltby.

It is thought Mr Maltby’s job of halting Ecotricity’s bid to win more than 50pc of the votes cast will be a challenge - some 60 per cent of shares of Good Energy are held by its energy customers.

Mr Vince is already reported as saying he is “disappointed” by the tone of Good Energy’s reaction to his request and has accused the firm of a “lack of corporate governance”.

The plot has been building for some time. Last year The Times newspaper and website reported how the two sides were involved in a dispute over who could claim to sell the greenest energy.

Ms Davenport’s company had complained to the Advertising Standards Agency that Mr Vince was falsely claiming to sell the greenest energy, according to the reports.

The ASA rejected a similar complaint against Ecotricity by Tesla, the electric car maker.

All of which comes to what some believe is a major motivating factor – who gets a heavily subsidised Government contract to build Britain’s first tidal lagoon power station.

Ms Davenport is married to Mark Shorrock (pictured below), a former film director and owner of Tidal Lagoon Power, the firm expected to get the go ahead to build the £1.2blln Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

A series of similar larger projects are expected to follow putting the firm at the centre of a new global industry.

While Mr Shorrock’s firm is odds-on to undertake the work Mr Vince has been critical of Tidal Lagoon Power and accused Mr Shorrock of demanding “crazy prices” from the taxpayer.

Good Energy bought into Tidal Lagoon Power’s project, which could provide power for 120,000 homes if plans are realised, back in 2014.

Mr Vince has highlighted £4million of deals Good Energy has done with Mr Shorrock’s company, including investment in the Swansea Bay project as well as contracts awarded to his solar power specialist firm Shire Oak Energy to which it has had links since 2012.

“As major shareholders we have a responsibility to prevent such things and as board members we will ensure that all transactions of Good Energy are properly commercial and that the company is run for the benefit of all its shareholders,” Mr Vince told Clean Energy News.

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