Ackman's Pershing Square Nominates Three To ADP Board As Proxy Contest Heats Up

Aug 8 2017 | 11:00pm ET

Activist investor Pershing Square Capital Management has filed regulatory paperwork for three nominees to the board of directors of Automatic Data Processing, naming Pershing CEO Bill Ackman, former Bechtel Group CFO Paul Unruh, and Polymer Group CEO Veronica Hagen as prospective directors.

The move comes a week after the investment manager disclosed an 8.3% stake in ADP, and sets the stage for a potentially large proxy contest. 

The filing of the minority slate was not unexpected. ADP, which has publicly characterized Ackman’s push as a quest for “effective control,” denied Ackman’s request to delay the August 10 deadline for nominees for 45 days in order to pursue a dialog with the company. Ackman noted shortly thereafter that although disappointed in the company’s decision, he would be filing a slate before the original deadline.

In response to the filing of Pershing Square’s slate, ADP noted that it would evaluate the nominees "to assess their ability to add value on the board for the benefit of all ADP shareholders." Last week, the company was quick to point out that in the last six years, ADP’s total shareholder return of 202% was well in excess of the S&P 500’s gain of 128%, and several multiples of Pershing's gain of 29%, over the same period.

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