NEW YORK– One of Angie’s List’s largest shareholders said he is done with “dashed hopes and false promises,” and demanded the online business review company explore its alternatives, including a sale to IAC’s HomeAdvisor.
In a letter to the chairman of the board Monday, Eric Semler, founder of hedge fund TCS Capital, blasted the company for its failed growth strategies and warned that their latest effort to generate value for shareholders will be no different.
“In virtually every instance, these new products or plans have failed to create shareholder value,” Semler wrote in a scathing letter to the board Chairman, John Chuang. “We fear that LeadFeed and the new CEO will be the next ‘hot prospects’ to turn cold – continuing this demoralizing trend at the company,” said Semler, whose TCS owns 10.7% of Angie’s List shares.
Angie’s List launched LeadFeed on November 11th as a way to connect its non-members to home improvement service providers, who would then pay for the business leads received. The company also announced Scott Durchslag, a former Best Buy executive, would take over as CEO in September.
HomeAdvisor, which helps people find painters and other home improvement professionals, recently offered to buy Angie’s List for $8.75 per share, a buyout offer that the Indianapolis, IN, company rejected.
Angie’s List shares traded down 0.2% to $10.74 a share Monday. The stock is up this year 72% on hopes of a sale.
Semler agreed that HomeAdvisors’ $512 million offer is “too low,” but said he wants the board to be sure by engaging in a sales process. He suggested a deal could be structured to give Angie’s List shareholders the opportunity to benefit from growth in the newly combined company, which he predicted will trade at “$20 per share or higher.”
In the letter, Semler also revealed that he rejected an offer for a seat on the company’s board due to the restrictions placed on him, which he did not disclose but described as “onerous.”
In an emailed statement, the company said the standstill agreement required of Semler would have been “customary,” but declined, through a spokeswoman, to share details.
“We regret that Mr. Semler has declined our invitation to bring his viewpoint into the Board room and to work collaboratively to enhance long-term value for all of our shareholders,” the statement said. “Of course our invitation came with the expectation that Mr. Semler would sign a customary standstill agreement.”
Despite rejecting the company’s invitation to take a seat on the board, Semler suggested he could seek board seats through a proxy battle if he does not get his way.
“If the board remains steadfast in refusing to consider the IAC offer or any other strategic alternative that would generate superior value for ANGI shareholders, we will not hesitate to take any and all actions that we deem necessary to protect shareholders’ rights and best interests,” he said. “We remind the board that time is of the essence.”
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