April 12, 2017 / 12:40 AM / 2 years ago

Elliott is close to triggering special Akzo shareholder meeting: sources

(Reuters) - Hedge fund Elliott Advisors is close to securing support from enough Akzo Nobel NV (AKZO.AS) investors to call for an extraordinary general meeting of the Dutch paint maker’s shareholders, according to people familiar with the matter.

FILE PHOTO: AkzoNobel's logo is seen in Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 16, 2012. REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos/File Photo

Elliott is hoping the move will add to pressure on Akzo to negotiate a potential sale to U.S. coatings manufacturer PPG Industries Inc (PPG.N). Akzo rejected a sweetened 22.4 billion euro ($24 billion) cash-and-stock offer from PPG last month, and has resisted engaging in deal talks.

While Akzo is due to hold its regular annual general meeting on April 25, an extraordinary general meeting would allow shareholders to remove Akzo supervisory board and management board members.

Akzo shareholders must hold in total at least 10 percent of the company’s issued stock to be able to convene an extraordinary general meeting, which would then take a few weeks to organize.

Elliott, which owns a little more than 3 percent of Akzo, is close to mustering support from enough investors to reach the 10 percent threshold and may trigger an extraordinary general meeting within days, the sources said this week.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Elliott, Akzo Nobel and PPG did not respond to requests for comment.

Akzo has scheduled an investor day for April 19, which it will use to provide updated financial guidance and argue that its standalone operational plan, which calls for shedding its specialty chemicals business, will deliver more value with less risk than a merger with PPG.

Akzo is considering spinning off its specialty chemical unit, but it is also mulling a sale after fielding acquisition interest in that business, which could fetch between $9 billion and $10 billion in a sale, according to the sources.

Private equity firms and smaller companies seeking to team up with buyout firms to make offers will participate in a sale process for the specialty chemicals unit, the sources said.

PPG’s Akzo bid is a major test for PPG Chief Executive Michael McGarry. PPG shares are up 16 percent since he became CEO in September 2015. In comparison, the S&P 500 specialty chemicals index is up 21 percent.

In private meetings with shareholders, Akzo has cited McGarry’s track record, as well as the antitrust risks of a potential merger, as a reason why a deal with PPG would be risky, according to the sources.

PPG is waiting for Akzo to come under more shareholder pressure before making a new acquisition offer, one of the sources said.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Additional reporting by Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Editing by Leslie Adler

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