Stock Spirits showdown gains momentum as first investor reveals it will vote with dissident Luis Amaral at AGM
The Stock Spirits showdown gained more momentum today as the first investor revealed it will vote in support of dissident Luis Amaral against the company's board at its AGM.
The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) will support the two non-executive director (Ned) nominees put forward by Western Gate investments, which is led by the Portuguese cash-and-carry entrepreneur Amaral, and is Stock Spirits' largest shareholder.
Four other investors have yet to disclose how they will vote on the Western Gate Resolutions ahead of the drinks company's AGM, which is being held next Monday.
Read more: Voices grow for change at Stock Spirits' AGM
Western Gate is calling for the election of two Neds – Alberto Da Ponte and Randy Pankevicz – and for a new review of the company's European M&A strategy. The spirits firm has grappled a duty increase in Poland, the loss of market share and management turmoil.
"CalSTRS’ support for the two Western Gate nominees at Stock Spirits is highly significant," Nick Dawson, managing director at Proxy Insights told City A.M.
"While CalSTRS is a highly aggressive investor only supporting Director Elections 39.7 per cent of the time, this does not translate into support for dissident investors which they supported only 29.5 per cent at Proxy Contests since 2012."
Read more: Stock Spirits boss Chris Heath steps down over shareholder and strategy row
As a result of the row between the company and Western Gate, chief executive Chris Heath stepped down and took "early retirement" in late April.
Yesterday it was revealed a third influential shareholder advisory group, Glass Lewis, had recommended that investors back Amaral's campaign, following in the steps of Institutional Shareholder Services and Pensions & Investment Research Consultants.