(Bloomberg) -- An investor group in troubled Swiss asset manager GAM Holding AG, including French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, is seeking to oust the board as part of its opposition to the sale to Liontrust Asset Management.
The NewGAMe SA and Bruellan investor group, which controls about 9.2% of GAM’s shares, is calling for an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to elect a new board to turn around the business, according to a statement on Thursday. It said that Liontrust’s all-share offer for GAM significantly undervalues the company.
GAM agreed to sell itself to London-based Liontrust for the equivalent of 107 million Swiss francs ($118 million) last month in a deal that would create a $66 billion global asset manager and seek to draw a line under years of turmoil. In a separate statement, the GAM board said it continues to “strongly recommend” that shareholders accept the Liontrust offer, which is also supported by some of GAM’s senior portfolio managers.
While GAM has said about 20% of shareholders support the offer so far, opposition from backers including Niel has made shareholder approval more uncertain. It’s not certain how much of the shareholder base is supporting the opposition group.
Last month, GAM said it was in exclusive talks to transfer fund services businesses to Carne Group. The transfer of the low-margin businesses is expected to help bring the Liontrust takeover a step closer as it was part of the requirements for progressing with the deal.
Read More: GAM Shareholders Question Liontrust Takeover at Angry Meeting
Antoine Spillmann, executive partner of wealth management firm Bruellan and former vice president of the Swiss Association of Asset Managers, is being proposed by the investor group as new Chairman of the board. Charlotte Aubin, Carlos Esteve, Anthony Maarek, and Fabien Pictet are the proposed other candidates.
The investor group is asking that the extraordinary general meeting be held on or about Aug. 16. Its plans include selling GAM’s fund management services business and rebuilding a wealth management business under the GAM name.
The Liontrust offer period is expected to start on June 26 and end on July 21.
In May, GAM rejected an investment offer from entrepreneur Marco Garzetti, who said he was prepared to invest 65 million francs in the firm to stop it from being sold at what he considers a low price.
Zurich-based GAM has been struggling to retain staff and clients for the past five years following a scandal that involved the shuttering of nine funds and the dismissal of star bond trader Tim Haywood. GAM said a decline in assets under management, revenues and profitability prompted the decision to sell the company.
(Adds details on opposition to the deal in the fourth paragraph and another deal offer in the penultimate paragraph.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.