April 4 (Reuters) - Ides Capital, one of only two U.S. activist hedge funds run by a woman, was partly behind the appointment of a female independent director this week at U.S. industrial technology company AstroNova Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
AstroNova did not disclose the role of Ides when it announced on Tuesday that it would add Stallergenes Greer Plc board director Yvonne Schlaeppi to its own board, while two of its oldest directors by age, Graeme MacLetchie and Everett Pizzuti, will retire from the board.
Four of the company’s six directors will now be independent.
Ides Capital privately nominated a “diverse” slate of directors to AstroNova’s board last month, but it will likely not pursue a proxy fight following the changes to the board this week, the sources said, asking not to be named because the discussions were private.
The hedge fund also sent a letter to the company’s board last month urging AstroNova to improve its corporate governance by adding independent and diverse board members and strengthening its board succession plans.
Ides will remain a shareholder and continue to push for changes at the company, the sources said. The size of its stake in AstroNova could not be learned.
A representative for Ides declined to comment. AstroNova could not be reached for comment.
AstroNova shares closed 1 percent higher on Wednesday at $16.10, giving the Rhode Island-based company a market capitalization of $108.9 million.
Ides Capital, co-founded in 2015 by Dianne McKeever, a former Barington Capital partner, is one of only three activist hedge funds globally that is headed by a woman, according to research firm Activist Insight.
Washington-based Cartica Capital, which focuses on emerging markets investing, is the only woman-led activist firm, Activist Insight said.
Ides Capital on its LinkedIn page describes itself as seeking to “constructively engage with management teams and corporate boards to improve corporate governance practices.”
Ides’ most well known investment was in 2016 when it waged a proxy fight with airplane wireless provider Boingo Wireless Inc . It settled after Boingo added three independent directors to its board. (Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York Editing by Leslie Adler)
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