(Adds details on agreement, background on ClubCorp)
By Carl O‘Donnell and Michael Flaherty
May 9 (Reuters) - ClubCorp Holdings Inc is in advanced talks with activist investor FrontFour Capital Group LLC over a deal that would give it two directors on the U.S. golf club operator’s board, according to people familiar with the matter.
FrontFour, which owns around 3 percent of ClubCorp’s stock, has put public pressure on the company since September to turn around its performance.
As part of the deal with FrontFour, ClubCorp will expand its board to 10 directors from eight, adding one independent director to the company’s slate for the next two years, people familiar with the matter said.
Under the accord, FrontFour and ClubCorp must agree on the individuals named to fill the new director seats.
ClubCorp has a staggered board, meaning only three directors are up for election this year. One of the mutually agreed upon directors will be added to that slate, and the other added to next year‘s, one of the sources said.
Reuters could not confirm names of new directors that FrontFour and the company have agreed to add to the board.
The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. ClubCorp and FrontFour did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
ClubCorp has not filed its proxy materials, and no annual shareholders meeting date has been scheduled.
The agreement could be finalized in the coming days, although there is always a possibility that the talks could end unsuccessfully, the sources added.
Dallas-based ClubCorp, with a market value of $841 million, announced in April that its chief executive, Eric Affeldt, was stepping down, releasing the news on the same day it decided not to pursue strategic alternatives after a three-month process.
Last year, FrontFour published a letter highlighting ClubCorp’s low valuation compared with leisure industry peers such as Six Flags Entertainment Corp. ClubCorp’s stock has dipped from $14 to $12.90 per share since September, while Six Flags has risen 30 percent to $62.72 in the same period.
FrontFour at the time also questioned some of its business decisions, such as ClubCorp’s model to pour money into refurbishing its golf course acquisitions.
ClubCorp, founded in 1957, operates more than 200 properties, including golf and country clubs, business clubs and sports clubs across the United States, Mexico and China.
FrontFour, based in Greenwich, Conn., was co-founded by David Lorber, who previously served as a director at hedge fund Pirate Capital.
Reporting by Carl O'Donnell and Michael Flaherty; additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Cynthia Osterman