Asset manager Neuberger Berman has told software company Verint Systems it is nominating three board members as the firm continues to embrace more vocal activist tactics.
The $304bn asset manager, which holds about 2.6 per cent of Verint’s shares, told the company of its intent to nominate the three directors, but has yet to say anything publicly.
“Our preference is always constructive dialogue with the company,” said Benjamin Nahum, a portfolio manager for Neuberger Berman’s Intrinsic Value Fund, which has been invested with Verint for more than 12 years.
He added that Verint “has some excellent technology” and that “there’s a lot of value to be realised,” but that over the past three months or so, they have “been denied access to the entirety of the board and been relegated to one director” as a point of contact as they complained about structural issues and the pace at which Verint is moving on its cloud strategy.
“This is not about Dan [Bodner, Verint CEO], it’s about wisdom at the board level,” he added.
The fund’s nominees include Mark Greene, the former CEO of Fair Isaac, Beatriz Infante, the former CEO of Aspect Communications, and Oded Weiss, former president of Temenos, according to Verint.
Verint said its board “has carefully reviewed” the asset manager’s candidates, “and determined that none of these candidates’ skills are additive to the current board.”
Neuberger Berman is among active asset managers who are increasingly going activist as the tactic becomes more commonplace, and as some managers come under pressure to justify their strategy as investors shift their money towards cheaper index tracker funds after a years-long bull market.
Most of their maneuverings remain behind the scenes, but the firm has been increasingly comfortable with being more public in agitating for change at their portfolio companies.
Dan Bodner, Verint’s chairman and CEO, said in a letter to shareholders that Neuberger Berman’s director nominations are “demonstrably unwarranted” after the company’s share price rose 56 per cent in the past 12 months.
We believe our board, which is comprised of eight highly qualified individuals with a balance of experiences and skills, is highly capable of evaluating strategic decisions and providing management oversight to ensure we maximise the company’s potential. Verint continuously assesses the composition of the board, and in just the last three years we have added three new directors, including one board member who was added in 2017 at the recommendation of Neuberger Berman. We are committed to continuing to refresh our board with qualified directors focused on driving incremental shareholder value, including with candidates proposed by our stockholders, but we are doing this as part of a long-term and orderly process to find the best candidates.
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