Huntsman Wins Proxy Fight with Starboard

29.03.2022 - Huntsman has managed to rebuff a move by activist investor Starboard Value to appoint four members to the chemical company’s board. According to preliminary results from Huntsman’s annual meeting on Mar. 25, shareholders voted to elect all 10 of Huntsman’s nominated directors.

"We appreciate the dialogue that we've had with a significant number of our shareholders during this campaign," said Huntsman chairman and CEO Peter Huntsman. "Over the past few years, we transformed our product portfolio to focus on 'value over volume' and fully deleveraged our balance sheet, earning an investment grade rating. The outcome of today's shareholder vote is validation of our portfolio strategy and recognition that the Huntsman of today is vastly different than the Huntsman of five years ago."

The CEO added: “While we had our differences with Starboard on the key issue of board composition, we appreciated the constructive dialogue we had with them on that topic as well as several other business matters since their initial investment and look forward to continued engagement with Starboard as a significant investor in Huntsman.”

Starboard said it was “disappointed” by the result. “In fact, based on preliminary results, it appears as though less than 50% of the shares outstanding supported the company’s contested nominees,” said Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith.

Starboard owns an 8.8% stake in Huntsman and in late January nominated Smith along with former LyondellBasell CEO James Gallogly, Sandra Beach Lin, former CEO of Calisola, a former executive vice president of Celanese and CEO of its then-plastics subsidiary Ticona, together with Susan Schnabel, co-founder and co-managing partner of aPriori Capital Partners.

Since its investor day last November, Huntsman has started a strategic review of its Textile Effects division, implemented a multi-year incentive program for officers and vice presidents and appointed three replacement board members.

It also announced a $1 billion share repurchase program, which has been doubled to $2 billion following authorization by the newly elected board on Mar. 28.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist