The public struggle over ethical investment fund Hunter Hall has claimed a senior scalp.
Paul Jensen, chairman of Hunter Hall, today resigned as a director of Geoff Wilson’s WAM Capital over a potential conflict with Hunter Hall’s listed investment company, Hunter Hall Global Value (HHV).
The equity mutual fund WAM, the biggest shareholder with about 11.5%, is seeking to replace the board of Hunter Hall Global Value, including Jensen, because the directors refused a request for WAM for have equal access to a share buyback.
“When you’re sitting on a listed investment company board these are the types of situations which do occur from time to time,” Jensen told Business Insider.
“Wilson Asset Management has long participated in listed investment company corporate actions and shareholder activism.”
Jensen, in a written statement to the market, said: “I have reached the decision that the differences of opinion between Wilson Asset Management Pty Limited as the manager of WAM, and HHV as to the future direction of HHV, mean that my role as a director of WAM may provide a distraction from the issues that the business has to address to ensure that the best interests of all shareholders are protected.”
Jensen said he was now available for further independent non executive director roles: “When you lose one, you are very keen to pick up another one.”
The departure of ethical investor pioneer Peter Hall from Hunter Hall, the fund he established 22 years ago, has thrown future control of the main company into doubt.
The high-profile funds manager gave notice as chief investment officer in December and then said he was selling his 43% stake to ASX-listed investment house Washington H. Soul Pattinson at $1 a share — around a third less than the then market price.
Washington H. Soul Pattinson is making a cash takeover bid at $1 a share for the rest of the company. Hall’s acceptance will make Soul Patterson the biggest shareholder.
However, ASX-listed Pinnacle Investment has made a bid at $2 a share, which has been rejected by the Hunter Hall board, rising to $2.40 if it can get 24%.
Hunter Hall shares were up 2.3% to $2.58 today.