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Activist investor Elliott Advisors has led calls from a number of shareholders for a special meeting to remove Akzo Nobel’s chairman, according to the Dutch paint maker.
Akzo Nobel said it would consider the proposal to hold an extraordinary general meeting to dismiss Antony Burgmans within the statutory 14 days, but that it “strongly” supported the chairman.
The company, which owns the Dulux brand of paints, has been locked in a war of words with Elliott over its decision to reject two takeover bids from US rival PPG Industries since early March, the latest for €22.4bn. A combination would create a dominant player in the $130bn global paints and coatings industry.
In a sign of the tensions between the sides, Akzo Nobel said it had reported Elliott Advisors – the fund’s UK offshoot – to Dutch financial regulators over its handling of its the EGM request. It said it became aware on Tuesday that “Elliott Advisors intended to privately share potentially price sensitive information with PPG about its decision to request an EGM”.
The Dutch group said it had shared this information with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and called on Elliott and PPG to “clarify their relationship and the history of the communications between the two companies”.On the EGM request, Akzo Nobel said: “The view of the Supervisory Board is that the removal of Mr. Burgmans would be irresponsible, disproportionate, damaging and not in the best interest of the company, its shareholders and other stakeholders. Therefore the proposed agenda item to remove Mr. Burgmans will be rejected.”
The Amsterdam-based group says the PPG offer undervalued the company and its prospects, and would lead to job cuts and substantial divestitures on competition grounds. It has attracted political opposition in the Netherlands.
Elliott has led a chorus of shareholders urging Akzo Nobel to “engage” with PPG over the approach, with investors owning roughly 17 per cent of the stock having come out publicly on the matter. The hedge fund has a stake above 3 per cent, placing it among the top five shareholders.
Elliott did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Akzo Nobel will outline a new strategy on 19 April.