January 4, 2017 / 5:49 AM / a year ago

Australia Bellamy's top shareholder wants board shake-up amid China woes

* Black Prince nominates four replacements to Bellamy’s board

* Push for overhaul comes amid trading suspension in shares

* Proposal from Black Prince an “unwanted distraction” -Bellamy’s

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Bellamy’s Australia Ltd said its top shareholder, Black Prince Private Foundation, wants the company to replace four non-executive directors with its own candidates amid problems related to the infant formula maker’s exports to China.

The push for a board overhaul comes at a time when Bellamy’s is bracing for a hit to its sales. Last month, the formula maker asked for a trading halt in its shares until Jan. 13, warning China’s new import rules would prompt exporters to dump stock, leading to a glut and hurting its shipments.

The Sydney-listed firm said in statement on Wednesday that Black Prince - which has a 14.48 percent stake - had asked Bellamy’s to call a shareholder meeting to effect the board overhaul. Under Australian laws, Bellamy’s is required to convene a meeting if owners of more than 5 percent request it.

Black Prince wants to bring former Bellamy’s director Jan Cameron, founder of outdoor clothes company Kathmandu Holdings Ltd, investment banker Vaughan Webber, lawyer Rodd Peters and Chan Wai-Chan to the formula maker’s board, the statement shows. Bellamy’s said it opposes the move.

“I support my fellow directors in opposing the proposal from Black Prince, which is an unwanted distraction for the board and senior management as we work towards lifting the suspension of trading in Bellamy’s shares,” Bellamy’s Chairman Rob Woolley said in the statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Black Prince, which is based in Singapore, could not be immediately reached for a comment.

Cameron, one of Black Prince’s nominees, has never explained her relationship with Black Prince, but a Bellamy’s spokesman said she was associated with the firm.

In 2016, she said she wanted to buy Australia’s biggest dairy, Van Diemen’s Land Co, but it was sold to China’s Moon Lake Investments for A$280 million ($203 million).

Bellamy’s shares listed in 2014 with an issue price of A$1 and were trading over A$16 the following year amid reports of insatiable demand for its product in China, where a poisoning scandal tainted the reputation of local formula. Last month, the shares almost halved in one day following the bleak sales view.

$1 = 1.3824 Australian dollars Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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