April 23, 2018 / 12:19 PM / 3 months ago

Newell Brands ends proxy fight with Starboard

(Reuters) - Consumer products maker Newell Brands Inc (NWL.N) has agreed to add three independent directors to its board, including one proposed by hedge fund Starboard Value LP, ending a months-long proxy fight with the activist investor.

FILE PHOTO: Jeffrey Smith, Managing Member, CEO and Chief Investment Officer for Starboard Value LP., speaks at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S. May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Shares of the Sharpie maker rose 3.2 percent to $27.30 in premarket trading on Monday.

Starboard had planned to press ahead with the proxy fight, saying more work was needed to repair the company even after rival hedge fund boss Carl Icahn won four seats on Newell’s board last month.

Newell said on Monday it planned to nominate Bridget Ryan Berman from Starboard’s slate, with Icahn also backing her candidacy for election to the board at its 2018 annual meeting.

The company named two new independent directors, Gerardo Lopez and Robert Steele, effective immediately.

Icahn, who has amassed a nearly 7 percent stake in Newell, said he agreed to give up two of the four seats he had won to pave the way for Lopez and Steele’s addition to the board.

“The company reached out to us and requested that we give up two board seats to avoid a potentially disruptive proxy fight, which could have been especially bad at this important time for the company,” Icahn said in a statement.

Icahn said the decision was to “facilitate peace” between Newell and Starboard’s Jeff Smith, who runs the $8 billion hedge fund.

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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