Proxy firm sides with Canadian wind developer against activist investor

Lines drawn ahead of AGM

Listed Canadian renewables firm Western Wind Energy has had a boost in its battle with rebel investor Savitr Capital with the news that proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis will advise shareholders to vote against Savitr’s dissident board at the firm’s annual meeting.

Citing a loss of faith in Western Wind’s board, Savitr, a San Francisco-based clean technology investor that was founded by hedge fund manager Andrew Midler, said in early August that it would ask shareholders to elect its own candidates at the meeting on September 25. The move came just days after Western Wind’s board announced that it was selling the company following speculation in its stock.

Savitr itself began acquiring Western Wind in the crisis year 2008 for C$0.50 a share and today owns 5% of the company. Vancouver-based Western Wind is currentlytrading around C$2.50 a share – near its previous highs and what its board thinks is its minimum price.

Ahead of the AGM showdown, Western Wind’s cited Glass Lewis as siding with its own board. It said: “Glass Lewis concluded that it expects current management to possess greater knowledge of the company and its assets, to be best positioned to oversee the sale of the company in a timely and efficient manner and that electing the dissident nominees could be disruptive to this process.”

It said the proxy firm recommends voting for each of the current directors – and against Savitr’s slate.

Western Wind said it was in talks with 16 qualified buyers, including three US utilities. Co-advisors for the sale are the investment bank Rothschild and PI Financial Corp. Link