Harbinger Makes Play For Ryerson’s Board

Jan 3 2007 | 12:19pm ET

New York-based Harbinger Capital Partners is bereft of New Years’ good cheer for Ryerson, a metals distributor and processor. The activist hedge fund group is seeking to dump the majority of the metals distributor and processor’s board of directors at the company's 2007 annual meeting of shareholders, proffering seven candidates of its own.

Harbinger, which has a 9.7% stake in Ryerson, said it has become increasingly concerned that Ryerson's board of directors and senior management have “demonstrated a lack of focus on profitability and management of inventory” and that it believes the company's current board “has not fulfilled its responsibility to enhance value for shareholders.” In particular, the hedge fund argues that the board and senior management team have failed to adequately execute the company's strategy and that the current board lacks the necessary experience in the metals service center industry, and has provided insufficient oversight of the company's management team.

Larry Clark, managing director of Harbinger Capital, stated: "This company has consistently underperformed and there is a need for a significant change at the board level.”

Harbinger will seek election: Keith Butler, owner of BCS Placements, a broker dealer; Eugene Davis, chairman of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings; Daniel Dienst, chairman of Metal Management; Richard Kochersperger, director of Food Marketing Group; Larry Liebovich, retired former president of Liebovich Steel & Aluminum; Gerald Morris, CEO of Intalite International, a diversified holding company; and Allen Ritchie, a private investor.

Harbinger, which said none of its nominees work for the fund, also notified the company that it is filing stockholder proposals intended to deter the current board members from creating obstacles to the election of the Harbinger nominees as a majority of the board.

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