Five days into his new role as temporary chief executive as well as chairman of the software company Misys, Sir Dominic Cadbury yesterday faced deeply disappointed shareholders who had been hoping for a bid fronted by the former chief executive Kevin Lomax.
Instead, Misys announced last Friday that no bid had materialised and that Mr Lomax, who founded Misys in 1979, had quit both as chief executive and as a director. There was no sign of him at yesterday's annual meeting.
Sir Dominic insisted he and his boardroom colleagues had been right three months ago to enter talks with Mr Lomax and unnamed private equity houses - reported to be Per-mira and General Atlantic - that proposed to take the company private, a move said to have sparked rival interest from possible trade buyers.
That came despite one shareholder describing Misys's recent performance as "thoroughly shambolic".
Sir Dominic said: "It could have resulted in an attractive offer." In the event, there was no offer, he insisted, "no price on the table".
"The proposals were all indicative and highly conditional," Sir Dominic said.
He and his colleagues had also turned down a separate "management walk-in" proposed by a team of three executives with plans to prepare Misys for a break-up.
Misys needed a single individual to take responsibility as chief executive, he said.
Sir Dominic revealed that right at the outset of the buyout negotiations three months ago he had started a search for a new chief executive for fear if the approach came to nothing Mr Lomax's position would be untenable.
As a result, he said he expects to name the new boss in mid-October. But if Mr Lomax, or a member of the would-be "walk-in" team wished to apply, they knew how.
In view of the pending appointment Sir Dominic rejected a shareholder's call for a "step change" in Misys's strategy, though he conceded that some of its products were "tired".
"A change in leadership will obviously involve a change in direction," he pointed out. "Our job is to find the right person. It would be silly to start writing out strategic plans.
"We are very far advanced in the search process."
Sir Dominic also revealed that Mr Lomax will receive a pay-off.
"Kevin stepped down by mutual agreement," he said. "He did not resign. There are contractual engagements with him, which we will honour."
At the end of a meeting that was more subdued than rebellious, shareholder dis-satisfaction showed chiefly in 11.5 per cent of the shares voted to reject the 16-page report of the remuneration committee headed by Sir Dominic.
One shareholder objected to the payment of any bonuses to the executive directors in a year which Sir Dominic had described as disappointing.
Sir Dominic replied that no long-term awards had been made and that the year's bonuses arose from specific outcomes.
He said the strength of Misys in the banking market and US healthcare boded well for the future, but accepted that its products need to be improved.
Shares closed up 0.25p at 189.25.