March 2, 2017 / 1:48 PM / 6 months ago

Rockwell Medical shareholders nominate two directors in proxy fight

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Rockwell Medical Inc (RMTI.O) shareholders have launched a proxy fight against the company, nominating themselves to serve as directors on the board.

David Richmond, chairman of wealth management firm Richmond Brothers Inc, and investor Mark Ravich - who together own 11.9 percent of the company - have nominated themselves as directors on the board of Rockwell Medical, which makes a kidney dialysis product called Triferic.

The investors believe the company has failed to monetize its drug candidates, according to a statement on Thursday.

The proxy fight marks another example of investors, who are not activist hedge funds, launching a proxy fight against a biopharmaceutical company.

Private equity firm venBio Select Advisor LLC has launched a proxy fight against breast cancer drug company Immunomedics Inc. (IMMU.O), in a battle that continues to simmer. The company postponed its annual meeting and is suing venBio.

Richmond Brothers and Ravich believe Rockwell shares have significant room to gain, especially if its new FDA-approved iron maintenance drug Triferic becomes the standard of care iron maintenance therapy for hemodialysis patients, the investors said in the statement.

"It has now been over two years since the approval of Triferic and more than three years since the approval of Calcitriol, the Company’s vitamin D drug, and Rockwell has failed to generate revenue from either," the statement said.

The company's external investor relations representative, Michael Rice, referred Reuters to Rockwell Medical's chief financial officer, Thomas Klema. A company representative said Klema was not immediately available to comment.

Richmond, which has held shares in the company for more than a decade, and Ravich also say in the statement that the company has rebuffed their efforts to engage with the management team. The two investors also say the company has poor corporate governance and that Chairman and CEO Robert Chioini’s pay is well above the industry average.

Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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