Shepherd Neame is reportedly facing legal action against plans to simplify its capital structure, with former vice chairman Stuart Neame seeking an injunction to prevent the company diluting his holding and that of family members, the Daily Mail reports.

According to the newspaper, the concerns centre on plans to replace the family B shares with a single class of share, reducing the Neame family’s share of the vote from 91% to 54% - c100 relatives control the voting stock at present.

Stuart Neame told the Daily Mail: “I believe that the real purpose of these changes is to silence dissident family shareholders, who are an increasing embarrassment at AGMs. 

“Votes opposing re-election of directors now frequently exceed 20 per cent.

“Disappointment with results and dividends have led to searching questions at AGMs, and a few years ago I even handed out charts showing graphically how much worse we had done than Young’s and Fullers.”

The Daily Mail reports that Stuart Neame will commence legal action on Monday challenging the claims made in the document unless it is changed.

Announcing the plans earlier this month, chairman Miles Templeman said: “Shepherd Neame is a highly successful family business with a proud heritage, a clear strategy and a bright future.

“Over the last few years, the board has taken some important steps to enhance its business with the acquisition of some excellent pubs and hotels, modernisation of the brewery and strengthening of our brand portfolio, as well as a business and board reorganisation to give clear focus to this strategic development and drive higher performance out of existing assets. The board believes it is well placed to deliver on its objectives and drive future value for shareholders.

“Following extensive consultation with our shareholders we have concluded that now is an appropriate time to simplify our governance and share capital structure and to re-align the voting and economic rights of ‘A’ and ‘B’ shareholders.

“We will continue as a private limited family company with our shares traded on the ISDX Growth Market as a low cost dealing facility and with considerable tax advantages.

“We believe this proposal is in the interests of all shareholders.”