Investor pressure and the demise of SMG’s Flanagan

THE demise, at the start of the week, of Andrew Flanagan, as chief executive of SMG, may have been partly down to investor pressure, co-ordinated by a former Channel 4 director.

Rob Woodward, a former commercial director of Channel 4 and widely credited for the turnaround and growth in the station’s commercial businesses, had co-ordinated a group of investors, together owning 25 per cent of the shares in SMG, to apply pressure on the company board.

But it’s understood that the pressure has been ongoing for some months and there was no specific demand that Flanagan should go at the point the SMG share price reached 75p or below.

Woodward has been presenting his vision for SMG to institutional investors since the start of the year. He is presenting himself as one half of a ‘dream ticket’, the other half being Richard Findlay – the former head of the former Scottish Radio Holdings radio group. One notable sponsor is David Montgomery, one time chief of the Mirror newspapers group, who has a small shareholding in SMG.

What seems clear is that Woodward’s backers are buying into a diagnosis of SMG that it has lost vibrancy and is not as well placed as it might be to respond to the possibilities offered by the fast-moving world that is digital television.

If successful, the plan would be that Findlay would succeed Chris Masters as chair while Woodward would become chief executive, ousting acting chief executive, Donald Emslie, considered by many to have a good chance of being offered the position on a permanent basis.