The AA is attempting to seize a vast pot of shares from its ousted executive chairman just days after he brought a multimillion pound damages claim against the breakdown recovery group.
Sky News has learnt that lawyers for the AA have written to Bob Mackenzie, who was ousted last July, to seek control of roughly 33m shares that he believes could be worth up to £220m.
The order, known as a Compulsory Transfer Notice (CTN), is the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter legal battle between the AA and its former boss, who left the company after a violent altercation with a senior colleague.
Sources close to the AA said on Friday that it had served Mr Mackenzie’s lawyers with the CTN in the wake of his own legal claim being filed at the High Court.
According to Mr Mackenzie’s claim, he had yet to receive a CTN relating to the shares awarded under the AA’s Management Value Participation (MVP) Scheme when he joined in 2014.
However, it added that the AA had written to him last September to confirm that a CTN would be served within a year of his ousting.
Under the terms of the incentive scheme, Mr Mackenzie was handed 55% of the participating shares, which would pay out based on returns to AA shareholders between three and five years after their award.
The roadside recovery company, which used to style itself as “the fourth emergency service”, has seen a calamitous decline in its share price over the last year, casting doubt over whether the MVP shares would ever have any material value.
Mr Mackenzie has also filed a claim against the AA at an employment tribunal, while the company has sought to claw back from Mr Mackenzie more than £1.2m in bonuses over an allegation that he was involved in an unrelated altercation.
In his High Court claim, he alleged that the motivation for his sacking was that executive colleagues wished to remove him because he objected to a merger or takeover.
Sky News has learnt that Hellman & Friedman, a private equity firm, approached the AA with a potential offer to buy the company.
Mr Mackenzie opposed the deal because he believed it “would only benefit himself and [Martin Clarke, the chief financial officer] personally by reason of the incentive scheme and would ultimately be detrimental to the other investors and the business as a whole,” his claim said.
In an earlier statement issued in relation to his employment tribunal case, the AA had said: “We stand by our decision to dismiss him for gross misconduct following his sustained and violent assault on another employee of the AA, and will robustly defend any action.”
It declined to comment on the serving of the CTN, while a spokesman for the former chairman could not be reached for comment.
The former AA chairman was hospitalised after his sacking, and is still understood to be experiencing mental health difficulties.
Mr Mackenzie was responsible for bringing the AA to the London stock market in 2014, but it has since been wrestling with a heavily indebted balance sheet.
Simon Breakwell, the company’s new chief executive, has cut its dividend and warned on profits.
On Friday afternoon, shares in the AA were trading at 78.04p, giving the company a market capitalisation of just £478m.
The shares have slumped by 69% during the last year.
From – SkyNews