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Sunrise faces new challenge with call for removal of chairman

Swiss service provider Sunrise is continuing to feel the heat in its battle to see through its acquisition of Liberty Global’s Swiss unit, UPC Switzerland, with one of its investors calling for the removal of its chairman.

Sunrise said that Luxembourg-based funds group Axxion had requested the removal of Peter Kurer, Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors, and the removal of Jesper Ovesen, Member of the Board of Directors, be put on the agenda of the company’s next extraordinary shareholders meeting.

Sunrise said it would review the request.

Axxion is acting at the request of an unnamed investor. The move comes as Reuters reports that German activist investor Active Ownership Capital has taken a small stake in Sunrise. However, according to the news agency, citing an unnamed source, Active Ownership Capital, while critical of the Liberty deal, is not the investor seeking to remove Kurer.

Sunrise is facing increasing pressure to review its acquisition of UPC Switzerland.

Sunrise’s biggest shareholder, Germany’s Freenet, is adamantly opposed to the acquisition. Sunrise accused Freenet board representatives of “a conflict of interest” and resolved to exclude them from discussions about the merger after Freenet accused Sunrise of agreeing to pay too much for UPC Switzerland at a time when the cable business is under pressure.

However, Reuters recently reported that other investors share Freenet’s view, with two big investors indicating they would oppose the deal with Liberty Global, while a third has expressed reservations.

Liberty Global meanwhile has rejected making any changes to its agreement with Sunrise for the sale of its Swiss unit.