Activist Corvex Calls Off Proxy Fight After Williams Board Appointments

Sep 26 2016 | 5:36pm ET

Keith Meister’s Corvex Management has dropped plans to wage a proxy fight to replace the board of Williams Cos. following word that the pipeline operator has named two new directors and will appoint two more at its annual meeting in November.

In a statement, Corvex said it welcomed the addition of former Occidental Petroleum CEO Stephen Chazen and former Baker Hughes CFO Peter Ragauss to the Williams board, and noted that with the addition of two more later this year, seven of the company’s eleven board members will be newly added.

“I believe the changes to the Board announced today…will put the company in the best position to ensure a renewed focus on shareholder interests and the enhancement of shareholder value,” Meister said in a statement. “Corvex looks forward to working with the newly-constituted Board to unlock the significant value inherent in the company.”

Meister, a protégé of activist investor Carl Icahn, launched an effort to remove the entire board of Williams after a $33 billion deal to merge the firm with Energy Transfer Equity failed earlier this year. Following a subsequent attempt to remove CEO Alan Armstrong, Meister and five other directors – including fellow activist investor Eric Mandelblatt of Soroban Capital Partners – resigned in protest, and Meister began preparations for the proxy contest. Meister and Mandelblatt had been members of the company’s board since February 2014.

Corvex is the fourth-largest shareholder of Williams with a 5.55% stake, according to regulatory filings. 

Founded in 2011 with $250 million in seed capital from George Soros, New York-based Corvex Management engages in value-based investing across the capital structure in situations with identifiable catalysts, taking an opportunistic approach to investing with a specific focus on equity investments, special situations and distressed securities largely in North America.

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