The board of Dutch paint maker AkzoNobel faced fresh pressure yesterday when a leading shareholder claimed corporate governance at the company was a “hoax”.
According to The Telegraph, US fund manager Tweedy Brown made the comment as it called on Akzo to engage with a fresh takeover bid by competitor PPG Industries.
The comments come just a day after activist investor Elliott Advisors brought a case before Dutch regulators, calling for Akzo chairman Antony Burgmans to step down after the board rebuffed PPG’s third acquisition bid.
According to Bloomberg, Elliott describes Burgmans as being in “flagrant breach” of his duties in the case brought before the Enterprise Chamber of the Netherlands.
PPG’s rejected bid, made at the beginning of this week, was valued at $29.5bn. Akzo issued a statement after the bid which said: “This decision follows considerable in-depth analysis of PPG’s proposal by the supervisory board and management board of AkzoNobel, working closely with their financial and legal advisors.
“As part of this process, on May 6, 2017, Ton Büchner, CEO, and Antony Burgmans, chairman of the supervisory board of AkzoNobel, met with Michael McGarry, chairman and CEO, and Hugh Grant, lead independent director of PPG.
“In the execution of their fiduciary duties, the absolute focus of the Boards has been to determine whether the proposal by PPG fits with AkzoNobel’s strategic objectives, is in the best interests of the company and creates long-term value for shareholders and all other stakeholders.
“After extensive consideration, the company has concluded that the interests of shareholders and other stakeholders are best-served by its own strategy to accelerate growth and value creation.”
The Telegraph quotes a letter from Tweedy Brown to Burgmans: “Dutch companies … have a rich (and sometimes checkered) history of buying companies abroad. Why is the reverse problematic? Is this the (in)famous and self-defined ‘level playing field’?
“Or is this asymmetrical capitalism in the fashion of Orwell, where different rules apply to different players? Is buying more acceptable than being bought?”