Laurence Orbach has been ousted as director of the Quarto Group and has left the company. Tim Chadwick has been appointed as a director in his place. The positions of c.e.o. and chairman, previously held by Orbach, now lie vacant, although the Financial Times quotes Chadwick as stating that president and c.o.o. Marcus Leaver will become chief executive as soon as possible.
Leaver has urged the company's stakeholders to "unite" behind the new management as the publisher seeks "to put this bruising and very public encounter behind us".
Orbach's departure came after a special meeting yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 7th November), which was forced by two shareholders who criticised Orbach's stewardship of the company, and wanted to install Chadwick, founder of Aurum Press, in his stead.
According to Harwood Capital LLP, which manages the shares behind the proposed resolution to remove Orbach, about 25 people were present at the meeting, with eight voting on the resolution in person, and the rest of the votes coming via proxy. It is understood five directors were present, though Orbach chose not to attend. At the time of writing, full details of the vote were not known, but Harwood said it had been confident of 45% of the vote ahead of the meeting if 100% of shareholders had voted.
According to the constitution of the company, the positions of president and chief operations officer, held by Marcus Leaver, and chairman and c.e.o., now vacated by Laurence Orbach, each have to be held by a single person. Leaver had been in line to succeed Orbach, who had announced he would step down in 2013.
However, it is understood the board now intends to hold a meeting to elect a new chairman and change company rules to ensure the positions of chairman and c.e.o. no longer have to be held by the same person. A Harwood Capital spokesperson estimated this could happen before Christmas.
In a statement issued by Leaver, he said that yesterday marked "the beginning of a new era for Quarto". Leaver said: "Our co-founder, chairman and chief executive, Laurence Orbach, has left the board. On behalf of all the staff across the world, I thank him for his vision, drive and vigour over the last 36 years. He grew a company that employs hundreds of people, publishes thousands of books, and brings joy and learning to millions of people globally."
He went on: "The special meeting held today elected Tim Chadwick to the board and I welcome him and his ideas for taking this company forward. I will continue to listen to the thoughts of all our stakeholders over the coming weeks as I outline my vision for the company, a company that will focus on the best elements of its businesses and reshape accordingly for the future. I shall work, as I have done, in harmony with Mick Mousley, our longstanding chief financial officer".
"In the meantime, I urge all stakeholders, whether winners or losers in this battle, optimists for the future or guardians of the past, to unite behind me and the senior management, in private, as we seek to put this bruising and very public encounter behind us."