Those who’ve been following the events of the past two months know that Meson Capital LLC, as represented by Ryan Morris, and UK-based Nightscape Capital LLP have been vying to unseat Aberdeen’s current board with their own replacements.
Meson and Nightscape’s efforts had forced Aberdeen to call a special shareholders meeting, which was planned for tomorrow, February 3rd. The meeting would determine once and for all whether Ryan Morris and his nominees would gain control over Aberdeen International, or whether Aberdeen’s current board would remain in power.
As it turns out however, Meson Capital and Nightscape were unable to generate enough votes among Aberdeen’s shareholders. As a result, Meson Capital and Nightscape withdrew their request today for the special shareholder meeting and, along with that, withdrew their court application against Aberdeen and any affiliated parties.
No company enjoys a forced proxy battle. But, if anything, Meson Capital’s takeover attempt gave Aberdeen management an opportunity to refocus its relationship with its shareholders. It also reaffirmed the support Aberdeen management has with its shareholders.
Issuing a press release today after the shareholder meeting cancellation, Aberdeen commented that “… the results of [the proxy vote] demonstrated significant support for the current board and its plan to create long-term shareholder value in the midst of challenging market conditions.”
The result of the proxy vote was not only a positive reinforcement for Aberdeen management, it also was a vote of confidence for Stan Bharti, a man who found his name unfairly dragged through the mud during the proxy battle.
Stan Bharti is chairman of Aberdeen International and also happens to be responsible for successfully driving a number of significant mining projects to market during his career, including Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines and Desert Sun Mining.
Over the past month, Stan Bharti found himself personally the target of criticism coming from the side of the dissidents, Meson Capital and Nightscape Capital.
However, in calling off the shareholder meeting, Meson and Nightscape also retracted the numerous negative claims they had made against Bharti and any judgments that called into question Bharti’s management integrity or his ability to independently and prudently lead Aberdeen’s board over the long-term.
As Aberdeen’s press release details, in discussing Aberdeen’s financial position and the company’s long-term plans, Ryan Morris admitted that he was wrong in casting doubt over Bharti’s leadership of the company:
At the outset of this contest I expressed concerns that Mr. Bharti was not acting in the best interests of the companies in which Forbes & Manhattan has an interest. Having initiated this process and seeing that the majority of the shareholders voted in his favour, I now realize that I was wrong.
Ending his retraction, Morris then went on to offer a formal apology to Bharti, saying: “I unreservedly apologize for the prior comments I have made that called into question Mr. Bharti’s integrity.’
Many shareholders will breathe a sigh of relief in hearing that this chapter of Aberdeen’s company history has come to a close. As for Stan Bharti and Aberdeen’s management, they are taking a positive, constructive view of the past month and are looking forward to being able to execute on their long-term plans for the company. With the resource market slowly recovering from a sour 2014, this may be the perfect opportunity to do that.