Bank of Scotland stake purchase used to finance buyout of dissenting minority shareholder group

The shareholder dispute at Miller Group has been resolved “completely and forever”, according to chief executive Keith Miller.

His declaration followed the acquisition of an undisclosed stake in the business by Bank of Scotland this week.

Keith Miller

Miller said: “The bank bought a minority interest from certain departing shareholders, which means it is now impossible for any further dispute to arise. The remaining shareholders are totally supportive of the company and we want to draw a line under the past.”

In addition to its investment, Bank of Scotland also provided Miller with an undisclosed level of debt that the company used to buy stock from remaining disgruntled shareholders.

The dispute began last November when the Aligned Shareholder Group, led by the chief executive's cousin James Miller, a former chairman, said it planned to sell its 64% stake in the £1.2bn-turnover company.

In February the rebels struck a deal with Keith Miller allowing them to sell their shares on Miller's internal market.

Miller would not reveal which shareholders had departed but said the dispute had been sparked by the “liquidity requirements” of one section of those holding the 64% stake.

The firm has posted a 7% fall in pre-tax profit from £87.2m to £81.2m for the year ended 31 December 2007 as the group was hit by the downturn in the housing market.

Overall turnover rose 6% from £1.23bn to £1.3bn, but housing revenues fell 1% from £729.8m to £721.5m.

Miller said: “It was a credible result in a tough market. We're working on the principle that it will be a long haul and a challenging market in 2008.”

Despite the fall, Miller said the group was well within its banking covenants and had “bags of headroom” with net assets of £1bn and net debt of £668m.

Turnover at the construction division was up 14% from £342.6m to £389.3m, while its property arm grew from £158.3m to £198.4m.