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NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Home Depot Inc. (HD.N), facing investor criticism for its governance practices and $210 million severance for former Chief Executive Robert Nardelli, said on Monday Relational Investors has ended a proxy fight and was awarded a seat on the retailer’s board.
David Batchelder, a Relational principal, will on Feb. 22 join Home Depot’s board, which has 12 directors, according to the company’s Web site. Batchelder will join the audit committee and the leadership development and compensation committee.
Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, also reiterated its agreement not to extend the 72-year-old retirement age for four directors — co-founder Kenneth Langone, John Clendenin, Claudio Gonzalez and Milledge Hart — past its 2008 annual meeting. The provision for Clendenin, Gonzalez and Hart had been waived for 2007.
Home Depot and Relational announced the changes in a joint statement.
San Diego-based Relational, led by activist investor Ralph Whitworth, launched its proxy contest in December. It had sought to nominate at least two directors, and to set up a committee to study Home Depot’s business, management and strategic options, including a possible buyout.
Relational owns about 26.5 million Home Depot shares, worth about $1.09 billion. The firm invests $7.5 billion.
Nardelli left Home Depot on Jan. 2 amid criticism that he was overpaid even as Home Depot’s shares lagged those of rival Lowe’s Cos. (LOW.N). He was awarded at least $119.2 million of salary and bonus during his six years at the Atlanta-based company.
Frank Blake, who replaced Nardelli, was awarded an $8.9 million compensation package for 2007, with 89 percent based on performance, Home Depot has said.
Home Depot shares closed Monday up 20 cents at $41.03 on the New York Stock Exchange.
((Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, editing by Deborah Cohen; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org, 646 223 6317)) Keywords: HOMEDEPOT RELATIONAL/
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