Sherritt International shareholders shut out dissidents in board election

Sherritt International Corp. investors rejected three nominees to the board proposed by activist shareholder Clarke Inc., which has criticized the nickel and energy producer’s performance and pay policies.Clarke Chief Executive Officer George Armoyan, who has been publicly calling for changes to Sherritt’s board since December, was seeking to replace three of the company’s directors. Proxy advisory companies Glass Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. both recommended last month that investors vote for Sherritt’s nominees.The board will continue to address issues raised by Clarke, Sherritt Chairman Hap Stephen said today at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Toronto.Sherritt, which fell 36% in Toronto in 2013, has rebounded 22% since the start of this year as nickel prices rose to a 14-month high after Indonesia, the biggest nickel miner, banned ore exports.Armoyan criticized Sherritt for a lack of strategic focus and excessive director pay and said Clarke wanted to change a “culture of complacency and entitlement.” Clarke and a group of other “concerned shareholders” also wanted Sherritt to focus on reducing debt rather than potential acquisitions, and called for the replacement of CEO David Pathe.Clarke said in December it controls about 5.2% of the company.Armoyan told reporters today at the meeting that Clarke will continue to monitor Sherritt.“We are committed to the company, we believe there is a lot of value in the company and hopefully they can surface it or we’ll help them surface it,” Armoyan said.Sherritt mines nickel and sells power in Cuba, has oil and natural gas assets in Pakistan and Spain and reached commercial production status in January at the new $5.5 billion Ambatovy nickel and cobalt joint venture in Madagascar. The company sold its Canadian coal businesses to two buyers for $946 million last month.Sherritt fell 2% to $4.49 at 12:48 p.m. in Toronto.