Blucora shareholders re-elect board, reject four Ancora nominees

Svea Herbst-Bayliss
·2 min read

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) - Blucora Inc shareholders voted to re-elect the financial services firm's 10 current board members, rejecting dissident investor Ancora Holdings' proposal to seat four newcomers, the company said on Wednesday.

Irving, Texas-based Blucora had told shareholders, which include large index funds and hedge funds, that its directors were better qualified to lead the company and that a number of recently made changes were beginning to bear fruit.

The company replaced the chief executive and chief financial officers last year amid concerns about performance, positioned the company's two tax-focused businesses for long-term growth, and added new independent directors in 2020 and 2021.

Ancora Holdings, one of Blucora's top 10 shareholders, thought differently and launched a proxy contest in February when it nominated four directors to the board and urged the company to consider selling its tax services business.

Ancora, which invests $8 billion for clients, argued that there were few synergies between Blucora's wealth management and registered advisory business, Avantax, and its TaxAct unit.

"We have substantially more work to do, but we appreciate the recognition from our stockholders that Blucora is a profoundly different and stronger company than it was just a year ago," Blucora said in a statement.

Shareholders' votes, made in the runup to Wednesday's annual meeting, illustrate how activist investors are returning with big requests after a more subdued 2020 when they largely gave management teams more leeway because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The battle between Ancora and Blucora went all the way to a vote while other corporate skirmishes were settled.

Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services had recommended that change is warranted at Blucora and that shareholders should vote for Frederick DiSanto, who is chairman and CEO of Cleveland-based Ancora. Rival proxy firm Glass, Lewis had urged shareholders to back all of the company's directors.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by David Gregorio and Will Dunham)