GAM wins largest shareholder’s support in the face of activist campaign

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GAM, the Swiss-listed fund house being targeted by an activist, has won the backing of its largest shareholder as the company gears up for a tetchy annual meeting this month.

Silchester International Investors, which currently controls 19 per cent of GAM’s voting rights, said it will back the asset manager’s current directors despite calls from activist investor RBR Capital to overhaul the company’s board.

The UK-based fund house said: “Silchester’s current intention is to vote in favour of GAM Holding’s recommendations with respect to board composition.”

Silchester’s support will be a welcome reprieve for the struggling fund house, which suffered a dismal 2016 when its profits fell more than a third, and its share price dropped 28 per cent.

RBR Capital, an activist that targets underperforming companies and owns an estimated 4.4 per cent stake in GAM, launched a campaign against Switzerland’s largest listed asset manager in February.

The campaign gained support earlier this week, when Institutional Shareholder Services, which advises more than 1,700 of the world’s biggest investors — including Norway’s oil fund — backed proposals from RBR Capital to appoint new directors to the board.

Rudolf Bohli, who founded the Swiss-based activist investor in 2003, said that without Silchester’s support at the AGM, RBR’s attempts to shake up the board would be “more difficult but not impossible”.

Silchester did not provide any guidance on how it will vote on issues other than board composition at the meeting on April 27.

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