Voce Capital Slams FBR & Co. on Presentation Response

Apr 18 2016 | 11:33pm ET

Activist hedge fund Voce Capital ramped up its criticism of FBR & Co. on Monday, releasing a statement taking the company to task for not publicly responding to Voce’s 67-page April 5 presentation detailing the company’s alleged strategic, operational and governance shortcomings, which also laid out Voce’s suggested remedies. 

“Instead of publicly addressing our research, FBR has chosen to hide behind a ‘whisper campaign, privately disparaging us and our analysis to employees and shareholders,” wrote Voce in an April 18 statement. “If FBR’s management and Board are as confident in their case as they reportedly boast in private, then they should defend their strategy and stewardship of the Company publicly, by publishing their own substantive rebuttal, so that management’s achievements can be objectively analyzed.”

Voce disclosed a stake in FBR last July and has amassed a 5.3% ownership in the firm, making it the company’s third-largest shareholder. The activist hedge fund has been pushing for changes in the firm, calling for new management, asset sales and the unwinding of a business diversification strategy. 

“Unfortunately, this behavior is not new and is part of a lengthy, consistent pattern of obfuscation, in our view,” Voce’s statement continues before reiterating a series of criticisms and shortcomings of current FBR management.

In late March, the activist investor nominated a slate of three candidates for election at FBR’s 2016 annual meeting, include former Goldman Sachs executive Jarl Berntzen, Spark Networks chairman Michael McConnell, and Voce founder and CIO J. Daniel Plants. 

“Our three highly-qualified, independent Director nominees…have the right collective mix of investment banking, finance, strategy, capital allocation, corporate governance and operational experience to help lead the Board through this transition,” writes Voce in the statement. 

Founded in 2011 by Plants, a former Goldman Sachs executive, San Francisco-based Voce Capital Management is a fundamental value-oriented, research-driven alternative asset manager. It has approximately $120 million in assets under management.


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