Activist investor Elliott blasts "afraid" AkzoNobel for refusing to hold vote on dismissal of chairman

William Turvill
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AkzoNobel holds its annual general meeting today (Source: AkzoNobel)

Activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors has hit back at AkzoNobel after the Dutch paints firm rejected its call for a vote on the future of its chairman.

Elliott said Akzo’s rejection of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), to vote on the proposed dismissal of Antony Burgmans, was “groundless and as an egregious dismissal of shareholder rights, further evidence of self-entrenchment and as a continued affront to proper corporate governance”.

The US investor also accused Akzo of being “afraid” that shareholders would vote to oust Burgmans.

Read more: PPG Industries increases AkzoNobel takeover offer to $28.8bn

Earlier on Tuesday, Akzo said it would not be holding the meeting, saying that there was “no legal basis for calling an EGM”.

It also said the request was “irresponsible, disproportionate, damaging and not in the best interests of the company”.

Elliott has been angered by Akzo and its chairman over their refusal to engage in talks with US rival PPG Industries over a takeover offer.

Meanwhile, the Dutch economic affairs minister today reiterated his opposition to a US takeover of Akzo.

The Dutch paints firm is under pressure from shareholders to engage with talks with American rival PPG Industries following an improved €26.9bn (£22.8bn) offer yesterday.

AkzoNobel, which rejected two offers last month amid domestic political opposition, yesterday said it would “carefully review and consider” the latest bid.

Read more: No let-up for AkzoNobel: Paint company's makeover fails to impress Elliott

But while this may have pleased some investors (shares jumped five per cent), Dutch politicians may not be too happy.

Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp told BNR radio today: “Whether the offer is low or high, that doesn't change my opinion…

“For the Dutch [economy], it's good that the leadership of AkzoNobel, both the management board and the supervisory board, is planning to remain independent, and I support that.”

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