De La Rue chair accused of defamation by investment group

Activist investor Crystal Amber has raised the stakes in its public dispute with De La Rue, accusing the company's chair Kevin Loosemore of publishing a "defamatory" statement in an October email.

The message to Crystal Amber's manager Richard Bernstein accused the investor of "market manipulation", according to an open letter to De La Rue shareholders published on November 9, which claims the statement is "libellous."

The exact statement claimed to be attributed to Loosemore runs as follows: "Should what you have in mind be actions that cause a short term 'blip' in the share price in order that you can trade to 'mitigate your losses' we would need to carefully consider the question of market manipulation."

"Crystal Amber believes that not only is this response inconsistent with how a chairman of a listed plc should engage with a long-term and significant part owner of a business, it is contrary to De La Rue's principles set out in its 2022 report & accounts that the chairman's 'role is to promote a culture of openness and debate'," says the letter.

The claim is the latest chapter in an increasingly acrimonious exchange between the two companies, coming after Crystal Amber – which holds around 10 per cent of De La Rue – has been pushing to replace Loosemore as chairman.

De La Rue responded to the letter shortly afterwards with a statement saying: "the board unanimously disagrees with the analysis portrayed by the incomplete correspondence contained in the letter and will make no further comment."

A general meeting and vote on Loosemore's future role at De La Rue is scheduled to he held December 2. He was re-elected by a 97.8 per cent vote by shareholders just a few months ago.

Crystal Amber also takes issue with De La Rue's earlier assertions that it has been pushing to replace Loosemore as a result of poor business performance and a decline in its share price, down more than 50 per cent since the start of the year.

Rather, the email statement was the main reason for asking Loosemore to resign, it claims in the letter.

The email was "illustrative of poor judgment. The same poor judgment manifests itself by De La Rue having failed to deliver on its turnaround plan, having produced two profit warnings in 2022 and a share price that languishes on eight times earnings."

De La Rue's interim results are due to be published on November 23.

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