April 10, 2018 / 11:39 PM / a year ago

Starboard seeks four board seats at Newell: filing

FILE PHOTO: Jeffrey Smith, CEO for Starboard Value LP., speaks at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S. May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

BOSTON (Reuters) - Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP said on Tuesday it plans to seek four board seats at consumer products group Newell Brands NWL.N, arguing more work is needed to repair the company even after rival activist Carl Icahn was handed board seats.

“We are seeking your support for the election of our four (4) nominees at the Company’s annual meeting of stockholders scheduled to be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2018,” Starboard’s chief executive officer Jeffrey Smith wrote in a filing.

The New York-based hedge fund, which owns 3.8 percent of the Rubbermaid container maker, earlier this year planned to oust the entire board. It scaled back its ambitions and now seeks to replace four incumbent directors with its own people, including two women. It is urging investors to elect Pauline Brown, Gerardo Lopez, Bridget Ryan Berman and Robert Steele.

Starboard has argued that even with Icahn’s nominees to the board more change is needed to salvage the company and boost its lagging share price. “Poor execution and a series of operational missteps have resulted in severe share price underperformance compared to both industry peers and the broader market,” Smith wrote, adding “the current situation is unacceptable.”

Newell’s share price has lost roughly 17 percent since January. The stock was up 1.2 percent to $25.83 on Tuesday.

Three weeks ago Icahn reached a settlement with Newell that immediately gave him four board seats in a deal that was seen undercutting Starboard’s campaign.

Starboard had planned to oust Newell CEO Michael Polk and wanted to slow the pace of planned asset sales. It had stocked its slate with a group of former Newell directors who had resigned from the board earlier in the year after disagreements over strategy.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Chris Reese

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