Akzo Wins Second Case against Hedge Fund
AkzoNobel has won a second court case against US activist investor Elliott Advisors. An Amsterdam district court ruled on Aug. 10 that the coatings producer does not have to call a shareholder vote on whether to dismiss its chairman, Antony Burgmans – who has already announced his retirement.
Elliott, which is Akzo’s largest shareholder with a 9.5% stake, blames Burgmans for the company’s rejection of a proposed €26 billion takeover of the company by US rival PPG, which was backed by the hedge fund.
In conjunction with York Capital Management, which holds 0.6% of the Dutch company’s shares, the investors had petitioned the court to force Akzo to convene an extraordinary shareholders' meeting to vote on Burgmans' dismissal.
However, the court said the request was premature, as Akzo’s management under new CEO Thierry Vanlacker has scheduled an extraordinary general meeting for Sept. 8 to present its reasons for rejecting the bid.
"After that meeting it is up to shareholders to draw conclusions and possibly take further action," news reports quote the court as saying.
The commercial court Amsterdam Enterprise Chamber in late May rejected an earlier attempt by Elliott to force a vote on Burgmans. It said also that AkzoNobel was not required to hold a special meeting or to include investors in its response to PPG’s bid. However, it identified a lack of confidence among a substantial group of shareholders that it said showed there were issues needing remediation.
Burgmans, 70, has announced his resignation for the end of his term in April 2018, but Elliott would like to see him depart earlier. Under Dutch law, PPG is in a six-month compulsory cooling-off period, in which it may not launch another bid for AkzoNobel. This expires in December, however.