Keith Miller takes his fight to keep company in hands of family to dissident shareholders’ adviser

The battle for control of Miller Group has moved up a gear with chief executive Keith Miller firing a broadside at Ernst & Young and insisting that almost a third of the rebel family shareholders do not want to sell their shares.

Miller: broadside aimed at Ernst & Young
Miller: broadside aimed at Ernst & Young

The rebel shareholders in the Aligned Shareholders Group (ASG) include James Miller, Keith’s cousin and former Miller group chairman. It appointed Ernst & Young to assess the possibility of selling its 60% shareholding to an outside investor.

Keith Miller said: “Ernst & Young have a lot to answer for. It’s encouraging unrealistic expectations. Shares in the housebuilding market are off 50% since May.”

He said: “All these shareholders are being advised collectively by Ernst & Young who are of course working for a fee. We would encourage each shareholder to take their own advice.”

He added: “At least 40% of shareholders do not want to sell. And there’s a good percentage of the ASG that don’t want to sell either. Because we’re a private company they don’t have to pay inheritance tax.”

A spokesperson for the ASG dismissed Miller’s claims. He said: “The ASG is very united and all the shareholders have signed a power of attorney to the ASG.”

Keith Miller isn’t saying it’s a bad time to sell if you
sell to him

ASG spokesperson

He added: “It’s noticeable that Keith Miller isn’t saying it’s a bad time to sell if you sell to him.”

Miller is understood to have offered to buy half the rebels’ shares, 30% of the company, for £132m last month, a 20% premium on the company’s internal share price set in May.

The ASG believes it can obtain a higher price by selling its entire stake to an outside investor.

Last year the 75 rebel shareholders shared a dividend of more than £7m, of which £3m was paid to James Miller and his family, which has a 25% share holding.

Keith Miller and his family also hold 25% of Miller’s shares. About 11% are held by employees.