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Starboard activist fund appoints four directors to Huntsman board

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Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP has appointed four directors, including its own chief executive, to the board of directors of Huntsman Corp, arguing that new members would help maximize the chemicals maker’s potential.

According to a letter sent Wednesday by Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith, the fund, one of Huntsman’s largest investors with a stake of over 5%, has appointed two women and two men with experience in the boards of Huntsman. administration of public companies and in the chemical and refining industry for the 14-member board.

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“We believe shareholders deserve a board of directors stripped of past loyalties, welcoming new perspectives and demanding responsibility so that the company can maximize its incredible potential,” wrote Smith, who is one of the nominees. , to Chairman of the Board and CEO Peter Huntsman.

The move comes just days after Huntsman added two new members to the board, appointed Cynthia Egan as a new lead independent director and appointed Sonia Dula to the compensation committee with a view to making her chair, criticized Steps Starboard .

Starboard said it was concerned the new faces “perpetuate old trends hostile to shareholders.”

“Rather than engaging constructively with us, the board has inexplicably chosen to react very defensively, taking three distinct steps over the past two weeks that we believe were aimed at depriving shareholders of their right to vote, ”Smith wrote in the letter posted to the fund’s website.

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The Huntsman share price rose 2.3% early in the session following the Starboard announcement. The company will release its fourth quarter results next month.

“The Huntsman Board of Directors … is fully engaged in actively overseeing the continued transformation of Huntsman’s portfolio, and the company is showing the best performance in terms of earnings and margins for current operations,” said a spokesperson. word of Huntsman.

“We value the views of all shareholders, including Starboard, and maintain an open dialogue with them. “

Huntsman, which is valued at $ 7.8 billion, is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, and manufactures chemicals for use in products ranging from building materials to plastics.

Starboard has criticized the company’s stock price performance, blaming management and board for poor returns which it says have left long-term shareholders “considerably worse off” than if they had invested. in larger indices.

The fund is one of the most active activists in the industry, winning six seats on the boards of listed companies in the first three quarters of 2021, according to industry data. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Additional reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Jan Harvey)