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LSB Industries of Oklahoma City faces challenge from shareholder

Hedge fund issues open letter to the Oklahoma City company's board seeking changes in operations and governance.
by Brianna Bailey Published: January 14, 2014
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Oklahoma City-based LSB Industries Inc. could be gearing up for a proxy fight with a small but determined New York hedge fund that has called for changes at the chemical manufacturer and climate control company.

Engine Capital has said it plans to nominate five new directors for the company's board by Jan. 23 if LSB does not take steps toward reform.

In an open letter published Dec. 30, Engine Capital called for LSB to split its climate control and chemical businesses and add new members to the company's board.

LSB Chief Financial Officer Tony Shelby said the board has engaged advisers to decide its response to Engine Capital.

Shelby said it was “unusual” that Engine has not yet disclosed how much of LSB's stock it owns.

“They are fairly small,” Shelby said.

It could be an uphill battle for Engine to force changes at LSB, unless it gains support from other LSB shareholders.

LSB's current management controls about 19 percent of LSB's stock, mostly held by LSB founder, Chairman and CEO Jack Golsen, 84, and son Barry Golsen, 62, LSB's president and chief operating officer.

Among Engine's criticisms is that six of LSB's 14 board members are related to the Golsens or company insiders.

Most companies have only one nonindependent member on their board of directors, Engine said in its letter.

Engine Capital LP., a New York City-based hedge fund formed in February 2013, has about $100 million in assets under management, according to Bloomberg. The fledgling hedge fund is led by Arnaud Ajdler, a veteran member of several corporate boards.

When contacted by The Oklahoman, Ajdler declined to discuss LSB beyond the contents of Engine's open letter to the board. Ajdler also declined to say how much of LSB's stock Engine owned or how long it had been an investor in the company.

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by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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