Stada elects new chairman after activist pressure
- Shareholders of German drugmaker Stada voted over the weekend to remove the chairman of the company's supervisory board, after activist investor Active Ownership Capital (AOC) pushed for an overhaul of corporate governance.
- Although AOC successfully pushed for the removal of the chairman, the fund was unable to convince shareholders to appoint its own candidate, a former Novartis exec, as a successor. Four nominees proposed by the supervisory board were voted in as members and the current vice-chairman, Carl Ferdinand Oetker, was selected to be the new chairman over the objections of AOC.
- Stada had accelerated a planned overhaul of its supervisory board, moving up elections by two years in response to pressure from AOC, which owns approximately 5% of the company. While Stada's revenue has grown in recent years, AOC sought to modernize the company.
Stada's former chairman Martin Abend was voted out by a narrow majority of roughly 56% in a reportedly 14 hour annual general meeting held on August 26.
AOC had pushed to remove both Abend and the former vice chairman Oetker, proposing a number of its own candidates. While Eric Cornut, a former chief ethics officer at Novartis supported by AOC, was selected to join the nine-member supervisory board, shareholders decided to elect Oetker as the new chairman.
Motions by AOC against two of the supervisory board's proposed candidates also failed, according to a statements from Stada.
Newly elected chairman Oetker obliquely referenced AOC's challenge to the status quo at Stada in a press release following the vote: "We agree on progressing consistently on the path of renewal in the interest of the company—to the right extent and at an appropriate pace. A key part of our work will be the constructive dialogue with all shareholder groups."
AOC has a 5.05% share of voting rights in Stada, although if financial instruments are included its stake rises to just under 7%.
Veteran chief executive Hartmut Retzlaff resigned from his position as chairman of the management board in mid-August, roughly two months after stepping down due to a "serious, long-term illness."
Stada makes both generic and branded drugs, with the majority of its revenue coming from generic sales. Revenues totaled roughly €1 billion over the first six months of the year, a slight increase from a year prior.
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