Imation proxy fight comes to a head on Wednesday

The recommendations of proxy advisory firms have a great deal of influence on the election outcomes at public company annual meetings. Two Minnesota-based public companies were headed toward contested elections at annual meetings this week.

Imation and Select Comfort were facing proxy fights from activist shareholders at upcoming annual meetings this week.

However, Blue Clay Capital Management withdrew its proxy solicitation against Select Comfort last week. Proxy advisory firms were recommending in favor of Select's slate for the board, not Blue Clay's.

At Imation, a showdown with the Clinton Group is still headed toward a conclusion at Imation's annual meeting Wednesday. The two proxy advisory firms, Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services, are split on which side to back.

Institutional Shareholder Services wrote in its report: "In detailing the company's prolonged underperformance and strategic missteps, the dissidents present a compelling case that significant board change is warranted." The firm recommended that shareholders vote for the Clinton Group's three director nominees.

Glass Lewis recommended shareholders vote for Imation's nominees. The firm's biggest complaint with the dissident group appears to be the Clinton Group's apparent unwillingness to work a compromise with Imation.

"The dissident does not appear to have made any effort to work constructively with management or the board in order to implement any of the changes it now seeks to make," the firm wrote.

However, Glass Lewis did advise shareholders to vote against the advisory proposal on Imation's executive compensation.

Patrick Kennedy

Analyst expects more M&A activity from Patterson

On May 4, Mendota Heights-based Patterson Companies announced that it has agreed to acquire Animal Health International for $1.1 billion, doubling the size of Patterson's veterinary business.

Patterson also announced that it has hired an investment banking firm to explore the sale of its medical business in order for it to concentrate on its traditional dental business and expanding veterinary business. Some analysts are predicting that the announcements could lead to more deals in the future. Analyst Ed Snyder of Northcoast Research wrote in a report: "We believe there is likely more to come from PDCO's M&A department."

Patterson is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.

Patrick Kennedy