Former hedge fund manager Grant Wilson has kicked off an activist campaign for board representation at Australian mining company TNG.
In a July 29 report, The Australian Financial Review stated that Wilson is looking to negotiate the removal of TNG Chairman John Elkington and CEO Paul Burton but is willing to go to a shareholder vote. Wilson has proposed both himself and Anthony Robinson to replace the two incumbents.
Wilson, who currently controls an 8.8% stake, criticized the TNG board for not holding “the breadth and depth of experience necessary to prosper and navigate the complexities of project permissioning in the Northern Territory, and beyond that, mine development.”
“Shareholders are additionally concerned that the board has lost the confidence of financial markets,” he added, “thereby increasing the dilutive impact of future capital raisings.”
Wilson also condemned the board for failing to manage the environmental approval required for its Mount Peake project, for failing to deliver a project activities road map, and “most notably” for failing to sufficiently disclose information regarding value engineering, design, and the delivery of an updated capital cost estimate.
The Mount Peake project was originally touted to have construction ready to commence in 2018, however Burton says TNG’s progress in obtaining environmental approvals was held back by legislative changes.
Burton has also stated that the TNG board will fight to keep Wilson out, adding that his actions only have one outcome, “and it’s bad.” The CEO believes that however Wilson’s campaign plays out “it damages the company [and] creates a huge amount of uncertainty for us globally with all our stakeholders.”
Wilson has already won the backing of the Brown family, who own a collective 6% stake, and has reportedly attempted to resolve the fight through negotiations, inviting Burton and Elkington to meet on July 29. Burton is said to have declined this offer.
In 2010, Wilson founded macro hedge fund Civic Capital Advisors in New York, managing the fund until 2018. He currently serves as the Asia-Pacific head of advisory firm Exante Data.
He has also launched a campaign website detailing his efforts.
TNG is expected to release a notice of a special meeting by August 11.