Thursday, 27 April, 2017

Elliott plans legal action if Akzo rejects vote on chairman dismissal

REUTERS  Robin van Lonkhuijsen  United REUTERS Robin van Lonkhuijsen United
Jeannie Matthews | 13 April, 2017, 02:23

Dutch paint maker Akzo Nobel AKZO.AS said on Wednesday that it had received a request from a group of shareholders led by Elliott Advisors to hold a special shareholder meeting to dismiss Chairman Antony Burgmans.

Akzo said it turned to the Dutch financial regulator after it became aware Tuesday that Elliott meant to share with PPG potentially price-sensitive information about the demand.

"AkzoNobel has shared this information with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and calls on Elliott Advisors and PPG to clarify their relationship and the history of the communications between the two companies", the company said in a statement.

Akzo rejected a pair of offers handed in by PPG, but a number of shareholders, including Elliott are in favor of the bid.

A spokesperson for Akzo told Reuters that the company will respond to the investors' request within two weeks, as stipulated by Dutch law. "Therefore the proposed agenda item to remove Mr. Burgmans will be rejected".

PPG has publicly acknowledged meeting with Akzo's top 20 shareholders, one of which is Elliott.

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In its response to the letter, Akzo said it fully backed the chairman. It demanded to know what if any agreements exist between PPG and Elliott.

In the wake of PPG's initial offer, Akzo - whose brands include Dulux, Sikkens, Interpon and Eka - has said it plans to separate its specialty-chemicals division.

Akzo has said it can generate more value for shareholders on its own. The resistance has come amid pressure from some investors to enter into talks, and the CEO repeated calls to shareholders who may be tempted by PPG's sweetened offer to wait until the unveiling of his own growth strategy on April 19.

It wasn't clear if Elliott's move would succeed even if the hedge fund could muster enough votes. Shareholders can vote to remove management and members of the board, but the supervisory board retains the right to nominate their successors.

Mr Burgmans and chief executive Ton Buechner say the bid undervalues Akzo.

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