March 21 (Reuters) - Shareholder advisory firm Egan-Jones recommends that Agrium Inc investors vote for the company's board candidates and not those of dissident shareholder Jana Partners.
U.S.-based Egan-Jones, the first of several advisory firms expected to issue opinions on the Agrium proxy battle, said in its report it believes Agrium's current board provides effective oversight and that Jana has not proved that change in its makeup is warranted.
Jana has proposed five candidates for Agrium's 12-member board and wants the company to split off its farm retail division, improve its use of capital and cut costs, among other moves.
"Our belief (is) that the dissidents have failed to make a persuasive case that a corporate split involving a spinoff of its farm retail division would result in the enhancement of shareholder value," Egan-Jones said in its 25-page report.
Shareholders of the Canadian agribusiness have begun voting, with the proxy battle winding up on April 9 at Agrium's annual meeting in Calgary, Alberta.