Sir Ralph Robins will step down as chairman of Cable & Wireless, following growing shareholder concern over the company’s web hosting business C&W Global, which has driven the company’s shares to their lowest levels in over a decade. Investors have become increasingly worried after the company released its third profits warning in less than a year.
In February, the company said that revenues were expected to fall 10% in the year to March 31. Last September the company had warned that they would be down 5%.
Some shareholders feel that Sir Ralph bought too heavily into Graham Wallace’s view that the company should move into the web hosting market.
The chairman’s departure is unlikely to cease shareholder pressure. Some investors are calling on the company to return more cash to shareholders.
In November, the company announced a £1.5 billion share buy-back program but a sharp drop in the company’s share price during the buy-back meant the cost to C&W was significantly less. Some investors want the surplus remaining cash to be paid out in the form of a special dividend.
There have also been calls to break up the company, heightening speculation over the motives of Franklins Resources, the company’s largest shareholder. In the past, the US fund manager’s Mutual Services Group has been known to support aggressive shareholder action.