The two flagship companies of the Jardines group - Jardine Matheson Holdings (JMH) and Jardine Strategic Holdings (JSH) are facing more shareholder dissent as another shareholder in both companies plans to vent its opposition at the group's upcoming annual meeting. Marathon Asset Management, a London-based investment management firm which has held stakes in JMH and JSH for more than seven years, said it had informed the group it planned to vote against resolutions to re-elect directors at the meeting. Opposition to re-election - normally a standard annual vote - is intended to demonstrate Marathon's displeasure that the companies' cross-shareholding structure appears to have hampered their share performance. Marathon joins a growing number of disillusioned shareholders who have emerged in the past week to express opposition to the cross-shareholdings. Its decision follows Brandes Investment Partners' unprecedented tabling of resolutions aimed at breaking up the shareholding structure. The San Diego-based investment management firm is also trying to boost the value of the group's shares. 'We have stated our intentions independently of Brandes,' said Marathon Asset Management director Jeremy Hosking. 'We can no longer support the directors of Jardine Matheson and Jardine Strategic.' Marathon owns less than 5 per cent of JSH and holds a minimal investment in JMH. Under the current board structure, seven directors sit on the board of both companies, and JMH owns 61 per cent of JSH, while JSH has 38 per cent of JMH. Mr Hosking said the shareholding arrangement and board structure were geared to serve the interests of the Keswick family, which holds dominant positions on the companies' boards but holds only about 5 per cent of JMH's capital. 'It's been clear to us that the cross-shareholding is not supportive of internal management,' Mr Hosking said. 'We think that the directors should consider their positions.' He said the shareholder activism was significant because while it would almost certainly fail at this stage, it would spark debate over the merits of the existing Jardines shareholding structure and prove that the board was unwilling to accept minority concerns. 'They can't win the battle without losing the argument, and just because they won the battle, it does not mean that they will win the war.' His comments came as another shareholder, Singapore-based Brierley Investments, expressed support for the shareholder action. Brierley said it was sympathetic to the Brandes resolutions and called them 'appropriate'. 'The company does believe that the steps that Brandes has taken are at the appropriate stage of Jardines' development,' Brierley general manager for investments Hugh Gollan said. A spokesman said Brierley's holdings in JMH and JSH were not at a disclosable level. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong (Holdings) - the flagship companies of Li Ka-shing - have exercised an option over JMH stock, giving the two companies a collective 3.75 per cent stake. The investment had previously been held through an option with Credit Agricole Lazard Financial Products Bank (CAL FP). Hutchison and Cheung Kong have maintained a similar arrangement with CAL FP over a 3.28 per cent interest in Hongkong Land, 34 per cent owned by JSH.