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The Trust offloaded £5 million of shares back in February 2011 — a move which was likely to alarm shareholders and City observers, and drew comment in the media.

Controversially, the Trust chose to announce the move to the Stock Exchange at 6pm on a Friday, when most analysts had left their desks for the weekend.

Quite the opposite Ocado divides opinion in the City as to whether it has come up with a genuinely viable business model.

What few shoppers will realise is that, over the past few years, it has quietly morphed from a grocer into a ‘service provider’.

Hundreds of thousands of families signed up for deliveries, and Ocado became as much of a symbol of Middle England as an Aga or a pair of Hunter wellies.

While customers flocked in, however, profits proved elusive.

He holds nearly 28 million shares, worth £86 million.

Around half of these are held in his own name and the rest are stashed in an offshore vehicle, the Steiner 2008 Millennium Trust, based in the tax haven of Nassau in the Bahamas.

The pair were guests at the launch last spring of The House of Elemis, an opulent spa owned by Steiner Leisure, the beauty empire founded by Tim’s great-grandfather.

Friends of his, unsurprisingly, tell a different tale. He tried everything to sort out the problems but they got worse.

Far from being a work-obsessed, absent husband and father, they depict him as a man who struggled for years to make his marriage work before finally throwing in the towel more than three years ago.‘Tim is a very good father. His friends think he is being dealt a very poor hand,’ says one.

Black, who has been a long-term critic of Ocado, is advising investors to sell the shares.

Tim Steiner regards his divorce and new relationship as an entirely private matter, but with so much at stake shareholders have a legitimate interest in whether his mind is on the job.‘We look at episodes like Tim Steiner’s on a case-by-case basis,’ says one City money manager.

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