WisdomTree has declined to nominate longtime ETF industry expert Deborah Fuhr for re-election to its board of directors as the ETF issuer battles with its biggest shareholder over the company’s direction.
WisdomTree, which manages $61.9bn in assets and 80 ETFs, did not give a reason for its decision in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on 19 April, simply stating “the board had determined that Fuhr not be included in the board’s slate of nominees at the annual meeting".
The board change comes as the battle for direction of WisdomTree heats up. The company’s biggest shareholder, ETFS Capital, has been urging changes at WisdomTree, and earlier this month nominated a trio of candidates to the company’s board as part of an effort to reverse what it calls “dismal performance".
ETFS Capital sent a letter on Monday to the WisdomTree board, which it said “egregiously” chose to not nominate Fuhr.
“Fuhr was and remains extremely qualified to serve as a director of the company,” the letter said, adding that ETFS Capital owns a stake worth in excess of $180m in WisdomTree.
Fuhr, founder and owner of ETF research firm ETFGI, joined the WisdomTree board in May 2022 as part of an earlier slate of candidates proposed by ETFS Capital, which owns 10.2% of WisdomTree’s outstanding stock. ETFS Capital is also the parent company of ETF Stream.
“It appears to us that they have simply paid meagre lip service to her tenure on the Board since May 2022 and have now removed her at the first possible opportunity,” the letter to the board said. It also took issue with Fuhr’s replacement nominee Shamla Naidoo, stating she was unqualified due to her lack of experience in the ETF industry.
ETFS Capital has seen the value of its stake in WisdomTree shrink since April 2018, when it sold a business to the company and took most of the payment in stock. ETFS Capital earlier this month said WisdomTree’s shares have declined about 34% over that period.
On 12 April, ETFS Capital nominated its chairman Graham Tuckwell along with Tonia Pankopf, managing partner of New York investing firm Pareto Advisors, and Bruce Aust, strategic advisor to New York-based Anthemis Group and former Nasdaq vice chairman, to the WisdomTree board.
ETFS Capital’s WisdomTree stake climbs to 18.3% when combined with its series A preferred stock.
This article was originally published on ETF.com
ETFS Capital is an investor in ETF Stream