U.S. Markets

Ashland settles proxy fight with hedge fund Cruiser Capital

BOSTON (Reuters) - Ashland Global Holdings and Cruiser Capital settled their proxy contest on Tuesday with a deal allowing the hedge fund to help select two new board members at the specialty chemicals company while one of its board nominees becomes a consultant there.

“Ashland will consult with Cruiser Capital, in addition to its other shareholders, on the previously announced search for two new independent directors to be appointed to the Ashland board,” the company said in a release.

Ashland Global also said that it will appoint Dr. William Joyce, retired former chairman and chief executive officer of Nalco, Hercules Inc and Union Carbide Corp, and vice chairman of Dow Chemical, as a consultant to the company on operations-related matters.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement so we can return our full attention to executing on our ongoing transformation and achieving our financial and operational objectives,” Ashland Chairman and CEO William A. Wulfsohn said in a statement.

The settlement gives the hedge fund, which had pushed to replace four directors, input into the makeup of the board as well as on company operations.

Less than a week ago Ashland struck a deal to refresh its board with another large shareholder, Neuberger Berman, which owns 2.8 percent of the company, a move the hedge fund said hurts all investors.

Cruiser Capital owns 2.5 percent of Ashland and has been pushing its management for months to improve margins, saying it believes the company could be worth more than $125 a share if improvements are made.

The stock closed trading on Tuesday at $77.19 and has climbed 5.4 percent in the last five sessions.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Tom Brown