US activist investor Jason Ader will today step up his campaign against online betting firm Bwin.Party by publishing a 37-page document attacking its board of directors.
Mr Ader’s SpringOwl emerged as a shareholder in February, and wants to insert four directors on to its board.
SpringOwl, which holds 5.2 per cent of voting rights, will issue its “case for change”, calling for shareholders to vote for the four new directors it will nominate at the annual general meeting on May 22.
Mr Ader says management has overseen a 60 per cent share price fall in less than four years since Partygaming merged with Bwin. He argues there has been a “reduction in shareholder value... as the incumbent board rewarded management with stock grants and removed ties to shareholder returns from its incentive plans”.
He revealed last month that the four directors he is backing are Michael Fertik, a tech expert, Francis Grady, a corporate lawyer, Kalendu Patel, a venture capital investor, and Steven Rittvo, who is an expert on casinos and gaming.
Bwin countered this with a letter urging shareholders to vote against the nominations. It said the appointment of “any of the four nominees to the board” is “not in the best interests of the company”.
Questions have also been raised about the relationship between some of Mr Ader’s nominated directors and his other business interests. But he maintained the directors are independent, and said: “While our efforts to work with the incumbent board towards a constructive solution continue, their lack of action in the face of substantial shareholder losses is frustrating. We believe the contents of this presentation clearly outline the case for change.”
SpringOwl snapped up shares from trusts associated with two of Bwin’s founders, Ruth Parasol DeLeon and Russell DeLeon, who are divorcing.