(Adds details and background)
By Michael Flaherty
NEW YORK, June 1 (Reuters) - Shareholders of mall operator Taubman Centers have voted in support of the company’s three board nominees, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday, fending off opposing candidates from activist hedge fund Land and Buildings.
Land and Buildings had sought two seats on the company’s board.
Spokesmen for Taubman Centers and Land and Buildings did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The sources asked not to be identified because the official announcement is not yet public.
Taubman, based in Bloomfield, Michigan, is a $3.7 billion U.S. mall operator that also has an Asia subsidiary.
Land and Buildings, a real estate-focused activist fund run by former Citigroup analyst Jonathan Litt, is the company’s 19th largest shareholder. The hedge fund’s campaign for changes at the company started last year, with Land and Buildings critical of the company’s CEO, Bobby Taubman, and the company’s under-performance compared to peers.
Taubman was one of the directors that Litt was targeting. Preliminary results show that shareholders re-elected Taubman on Thursday, with a final tally due in the next few days.
Land and Buildings’ effort to shake up the company’s board faced a steep uphill climb, given the Taubman family’s large chunk of class-B shares that grants it 30.2 percent of voting power.
Proxy advisers recommended that shareholders vote in favor of Land and Building’s nominees Litt and Charles Elson, a finance professor and corporate governance expert at the University of Delaware.
On Tuesday, the company announced that it would increase the speed of its board refreshment and transition to an annual election of directors.
During the Land and Building’s campaign, the company also added a new director and introduced the role of lead independent director to the board.
Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama