Two-month row at construction firm ends with deal to sell shares on family’s internal market

Rebel Miller Group shareholders have been forced into a climbdown after failing to win the backing of 75% of investors for an outright sale of the group, according to a source close to the company.

The rebels struck a deal with Keith Miller, the chief executive, after a two-month row. It will allow them to sell their shares on Miller’s internal market.

The dispute began in November when the Aligned Shareholder Group (ASG), led by James Miller, Miller’s cousin and a former chairman, made it clear that it wanted to sell its 64% stake in the £1.2bn-turnover company.

Under the law ASG needed a further 11% to force an outright sale of the Scottish housing and construction group.

The source said: “The group had a 64% stake in Miller that was a totally unmarketable commodity. They gave up in the end as they couldn’t sell up to outsiders.”

The remaining 36% is made up of a 17% stake held by Keith Miller, 8% by his family and an 11% slice owned by 300 employees.

The source played down speculation that ASG had been forced into a corner because of the weak housing market.

But some observers believe market conditions played their part. Chris Millington, an analyst at Numis, said: “Since November the market has taken another dip.“

A very public row

19 Nov 2007 ASG appoints Ernst & Young to look at a sale
23 Nov Keith Miller declares row has damaged Miller’s reputation
30 Nov Keith Miller says a third of rebels don’t want to sell
4 Jan 2008 Keith Miller talks of “poor timing” by rebels, given the weak market, but peace talks go on
1 Feb Both sides bury the hatchet