U.S. Markets

Cruiser Capital vows to fight on at Ashland even after board deal

BOSTON (Reuters) - Hedge fund Cruiser Capital said it plans to press on with its proxy fight at Ashland Global Holdings even after the specialty chemicals business struck a deal to refresh its board with another large shareholder.

The New York-based hedge fund is asking shareholders to replace four directors, including the company’s chief executive who has a seat on the board, and is arguing that the company’s deal with another shareholder hurts all investors.

Over the weekend Ashland agreed with Neuberger Berman, which owns 2.8 percent of the company, to add two new directors and have one current director step down.

“Ashland has gone to great lengths to not constructively engage with the Shareholder Nominees,” Cruiser’s founder Keith Rosenbloom said on Tuesday. “Their sequence of transparent entrenchment tactics has clearly revealed a culture of poor corporate governance and the Board’s seeming lack of respect for shareholder rights.”

Cruiser filed materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday night, a step required after making its case to a proxy advisory firm. The proxy advisory firm will soon issue a recommendation on which way investors should vote.

Cruiser Capital owns 2.5 percent of Ashland and feels undercut by the deal, which was reported by the Wall Street Journal. “Ashland needs truly independent voices – elected by all stockholders – in the boardroom,” Rosenbloom said.

The firm has been pushing Ashland management for months to improve its margins and has said that it believes the company could be worth more than $125 a share if improvements are made. The stock closed trading on Monday at $74.54.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Susan Thomas