City grandee Flint faces investor unrest over IP Group role

Sir Douglas Flint is facing mounting unrest over his stewardship of IP Group, the London-listed investor in early-stage science and technology companies.

Sky News has learnt that Lombard Odier, one of IP Group's top-three shareholders, has expressed misgivings over the company's leadership in recent months, fuelling speculation in the City that Sir Douglas could step down.

City sources said on Wednesday that a number of other institutional investors were aligned with Lombard Odier, which holds about 4.6% of the company's shares.

It was unclear whether IP Group's board was discussing Sir Douglas's future, and the company declined to offer a defence of his track record when asked to do so by Sky News.

Sir Douglas is a respected figure in the City, having served for years as the finance chief and then group chairman of HSBC Holdings, Europe's biggest lender.

He has chaired IP Group, which has seen its shares fall by about 6% over the last 12 months, since 2018.

The company has a market valuation of about £560m.

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IP owns stakes in companies such as C-Capture, a carbon capture and storage venture, and Feature Space, a predictive analytics business.

Istesso, a healthcare company which is another of its holdings, was the subject of an attempt to merge it with a special purpose acquisition company early last year.

Sir Douglas has also faced a turbulent period as chairman of abrdn, the asset management group which has been ridiculed for removing the vowels from its former name, Aberdeen, and which last week announced the departure of Steven Bird, its chief executive.

IP Group will hold its annual meeting next month, with Glass Lewis, the proxy adviser, recommending that shareholders vote in favour of his re-election.

On Wednesday, IP Group and Lombard Odier both declined to comment.