Proxy firm Glass Lewis backs investor WaterMill's board nominees at Ziopharm Oncology

(Reuters) - Proxy adviser Glass Lewis has urged Ziopharm Oncology Inc’s shareholders to elect all three of investment firm WaterMill Asset Management Corp’s proposed board members and vote to remove four incumbents, WaterMill said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes about a week after another proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services said Ziopharm should elect two of the three board members proposed by WaterMill, in a rare case of investor activism in the biotechnology industry.

WaterMill has said there was a need for a board shakeup at Ziopharm after the company’s shares fell over 75% during a five-year period.

“Glass Lewis ... has endorsed its case for meaningful change at Ziopharm Oncology and recommended shareholders vote for all five proposals on WaterMill’s WHITE consent card,” WaterMill said in a statement.

The proposals include the election of Robert Postma, Jaime Vieser and Holger Weis to Ziopharm’s board and remove incumbents Kevin Buchi, Elan Ezickson, Chairman Scott Tarriff and Mary Thistle, whose appointment last month was criticized by WaterMill citing prior connections with other board members.

Ziopharm asked shareholders to resist calls from WaterMill to remove the four board members.

Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta