The bitter battle over Gresham House, the 150 year-old investment trust, stepped up a gear today as the company’s board accused its largest shareholder of trying to wrest control of the board after failing to push through a bid for the whole business 'on the cheap.' The Times

Gresham House, whose main asset is a parcel of land near Liverpool’s John Lennon airport that could be worth £61m under a sales deal, urged shareholders to reject proposals due to be voted on next week to sack the majority of the board.

The proposals are from Parkwood Property Investments, a private equity firm founded and run by Robert Maxted.

Parkwood has built a 29.9% stake in Gresham and wants to replace four of the company’s six directors including Alfred Sterling, the company’s septuagenarian chairman and chief executive, replacing them with Maxted and two other directors of its choosing.

Writing to Gresham shareholders today, Parkwood accused Gresham of 'a lengthy attempt put a gloss on their attempt to put a gloss on their attempt to gain control of your company by back door methods.'

The letter added 'your board’s message to Parkwood is that if it wished to control your company it should propose a realistic bod that reflects the true inheresnt value of your assets.'