Stada activist hits back with its own board picks in fierce duel for company control

Earlier this month, Stada proposed a slate of four new directors--but now, as promised, its rebel shareholder is out with an alternative lineup.

Monday, Active Ownership Capital revealed its own desired boardroom edits, which include ousting Chairman Martin Abend and Deputy Chairman Carl Ferdinand Oetker, Reuters reports. Active Ownership also isn’t too keen on Gunnar Riemann or Birgit Kudlek, two of Stada’s prospective appointments.

Instead, the proxy brawler--which holds about a 7% Stada stake--is asking its fellow investors to support the nomination of former Novartis compliance officer Eric Cornut; one-time Hexal CEO Hans-Helmut Fabry and CFO Klaus-Joachim Krauth; and Ursula Schuetze-Kreilkamp, who specializes in coaching leadership personnel. It’s fine with Stada’s other two nominees, Opel exec Tina Mueller and Amgen exec Rolf Hoffmann.

Tensions between the two sides have been brewing for a while now. After appearing to strike an accord back in May--under which Active Ownership would have replaced just three board members, instead of the 5 it initially wanted--Stada decided to go its own way, announcing it would make its own picks for replacement candidates.

Now, it’ll be up to shareholders to make a choice at the company’s annual meeting on Aug. 26. And the way Active Ownership sees it, it’s a crucial one--especially now that Stada’s directors may need to replace longtime chief Hartmut Retzlaff, who took a leave of absence for health reasons in early June.

"Should Mr. Retzlaff not return, it will surely be the task of the new supervisory board to overhaul the management board in a sensible fashion," Active Ownership partner Florian Schuhbauer told the news service, noting that interim helmsman Matthias Wiedenfels doesn’t have the industry experience necessary to run the company.

Meanwhile, though, Wiedenfels has already begun doing just that, starting off with some more shuffling of Stada’s top ranks. Recently, Reuters reported that he’d stripped Retzlaff’s son, Steffen, of some of his duties and fired a group of external advisers.

- get more from Reuters

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