Shareholders have rejected a bid by the founder of Environmental Management Solutions to regain control of the company.

The environmental waste management firm fired Frank D'Addario for cause in January, alleging he paid himself too much and didn't make proper disclosure. It also questioned share transactions.

He has rejected their allegations, sued for millions of dollars and launched a proxy fight aiming to displace the board that fired him.

After a bitter fight before the vote, including exchanges of charges and counter-charges, shareholders voted 50.3 per cent in favour of the old board on Friday. D'Addario had proposed an alternative board.

About 15.3 million shares backed the company slate, and 15.1 million voted for D'Addario's dissident slate, the company said.

"The spread (.7 per cent) between the two slates was too narrow to rule out errors," the dissidents said in a release.

Their lawyer, Paul Stein, objected to the chair of the meeting rejecting 350,000 proxy votes. With those votes, the D'Addario slate would have won, the dissidents said.

The returning board includes chairman Mike Harris, former Conservative premier of Ontario.

The board says it is improving company operations.

Last week, the company said it is being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission for "potential market manipulation, options trading issues and disclosure issues" focused on the time when D'Addario was chairman and chief executive officer.

EMS performs environmental jobs, such as testing and remediation and waste mangement.

EMS stock (TSX:EMS) has traded between 66 cents and $4 in the past year. It rose three cents to close 88 cents on the TSX.