Elliott Pushes To Remove Akzo Boss -- WSJ

By Ian Walker Features Dow Jones Newswires

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (July 8, 2017).

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Activist investor Elliott Management Corp said Friday it was seeking to remove Akzo Nobel Chairman Antony Burgmans because of the board's handling of the failed $27.6 billion bid from PPG Industries Inc.

Citing shareholder dissatisfaction, a unit of Elliott has filed a joint petition to the Interim Relief Court in the Netherlands to convene a general meeting of shareholders to vote on the dismissal of Mr. Burgmans.

Elliott owns 9.5% of the Dutch paint and chemical giant's issued share capital. It said a recent survey that it requested showed that shareholders holding 21% of shares didn't have confidence in the management board, compared with 4% that do. It also said shareholders holding 32% of shares weren't satisfied with the way Akzo's boards conducted themselves over the PPG approach, compared with 0.2% who were happy. The survey was conducted by proxy advisory firm Georgeson.

For its part, Elliott said it had lost confidence in the ability of the chairman to guide Akzo in a manner that benefits all of its stakeholders.

Elliott was a key player in trying to end a standoff between Akzo and PPG, two of the world's oldest industrial companies. As one of Akzo's largest investors, Elliott mounted a bold public-relations and legal campaign to try to force the Amsterdam-based company into sale talks with U.S. peer PPG.

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The New York hedge fund has a history of agitating for European mergers and its London office has taken stakes in several companies and either pushed them to agree to a sale or forced a bidder to pay more.

In its rejection, Akzo said the bid from PPG substantially undervalued the company and carried "significant delivery and timing risk for shareholders, both in relation to substantial antitrust issues, pension schemes and the achievability of proposed synergies."

In May, Elliott lost an earlier legal battle to remove Mr. Burgmans. The hedge fund claimed the chairman had failed in his duties by rejecting a sweetened offer from PPG without attempting to negotiate a better deal.

There have been a number of recent tie-ups in the chemicals industry, with industrial-gas giant Praxair Inc. and Germany's Linde AG agreeing to a roughly $30 billion merger late in 2016.

Corrections & Amplifications Akzo Nobel's chairman is Antony Burgmans. An earlier version of this article misstated the chairman's name in the first and second paragraphs.

-- With contribution from Dana Mattioli and David Benoit.

Write to Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 08, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)