Sector News

Elliott Advisors loses legal bid to unseat Akzo Nobel chairman

May 30, 2017
Chemical Value Chain

Hedge fund Elliott Advisors has lost its legal bid to oust the chairman of Akzo Nobel over the firm’s resistance to takeover attempts.

Elliott had been seeking the dismissal of Antony Burgmans after suggesting Akzo’s boards “have failed to fulfil their corporate governance duties towards the company’s stakeholders” by rejecting bids from US rival PPG Industries.

Akzo has faced increased pressure from activist investors, led by Elliott, after turning down a third £23bn bid from the US company, claiming it undervalues the firm and “demonstrates a lack of cultural understanding”.

Elliott started legal proceedings to unseat Mr Burgmans after its request to hold an extraordinary general meeting vote on his future was rejected last month.

It said that it had gathered enough supportive shareholders to meet a 10pc requirement it believed was needed for the vote to be held.

“Akzo Nobel’s board continues to demonstrate a disturbing and inexplicable tendency to act in their own, self-entrenching interests and against the interests of shareholders and other stakeholders,” Elliott said.

But Akzo dismissed the request, saying it did not meet “standards of reasonableness and fairness” under Dutch law and was not in the company’s best interests.

A Dutch court ruled on Monday that Akzo was not required to hold the meeting.

Responding to the outcome of the ruling, a spokesperson for Elliott Advisors said the firm was “surprised and disappointed”.

“Elliott is considering the implications of this judgment for shareholder rights in the Netherlands and for its next steps in relation to Akzo Nobel,” he added.

Akzo said it was “very pleased” with the ruling, while PPG said it “remains willing to meet with AkzoNobel regarding a potential combination of the two companies but, without productive engagement, PPG will assess and decide whether or not to pursue an offer for AkzoNobel”.

The result of the case caps an increasingly acrimonious period for Akzo and its activist investors. Last month, Akzo reported Elliott to the Dutch financial authorities over allegations that the hedge fund planned on sharing “potentially price sensitive” information with PPG. Elliott owns more than 3pc of Akzo’s shares.

By Rhiannon Bury

Source: The Telegraph

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