Mr. Barry Rosenstein of Jana Partners reports
JANA PARTNERS RELEASES LETTER FROM INDEPENDENT NOMINEES FOR AGRIUM BOARD
Jana Partners has mailed a letter
to Agrium Inc. shareholders from its five
highly qualified and independent nominees to the board. Each of the
nominees brings a wealth of relevant experience and has made a personal
investment and commitment to the long-term success of Agrium.
The text of the letter follows.
Jana Partners urges fellow shareholders to vote the blue proxy card or VIF for its experienced and independent board nominees
Further information available at the Jana website.
Dear fellow Agrium shareholders:
Sometimes you have to ignore the rhetoric and look at the facts. The questions we have raised about Agrium have set off a wave of
baseless attacks that seem designed to obscure a simple truth: There is a massive value creation opportunity at Agrium which can be
unlocked by adding relevant experience and an enhanced shareholder
mindset to its board of directors. That is why we have made substantial personal investments in Agrium and
why its largest shareholder, Jana Partners, has invested more than $1-billion in the company's future.
That is also why we are seeking your support for election to Agrium's
board of directors. Jana's calls for change have already led to
Agrium's first large capital return in years and better disclosure, but
there is much more to be done. New voices are needed on the board to ensure that this is the beginning,
not the end, of a renewed focus on shareholder value at Agrium.
"There's no doubt pressure from Jana prompted the fertilizer and
agricultural products retailer to return $1 billion in additional cash
to shareholders last year and to improve its disclosure, to the benefit
(The Globe & Mail, Jan. 25, 2013)
We will bring to the board (1) the experience of executives who have
created billions of dollars in value at companies cited by Agrium as
peers for its retail business, (2) the knowledge of a former Canadian
Minister of Agriculture, and (3) the voice of an investor with a long
history of working with boards to unlock value. While we each bring different skills to the board and will make our own
decisions, we will all work toward the same goal: Unlocking value for
all Agrium shareholders.
"We see upside comfortably beyond $150 if the Jana slate wins, and
initial downside to about $90 if the Agrium Board is re-elected."
(Credit Agricole/CLSA, March 1, 2013)
While Agrium's stock has been lifted by a rising tide based on commodity
prices, it has dramatically underperformed its potential.
Agrium shares underperformed an index of its peers by 62 per cent in the five
years prior to Jana's involvement.
Poor retail performance
Despite spending more than $4-billion on retail acquisitions since
2007, Agrium has not realized the anticipated margin benefits of this
growth, unlike its peers. Instead, Agrium's retail business has seen
its return on capital cut by nearly half.
Lack of shareholder orientation
Until Jana's involvement, Agrium failed to pursue basic
shareholder-friendly steps like returning capital and had reduced
disclosure in retail despite its growth. By incentivizing retail
management based on EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) growth, not return on capital, Agrium also
failed to align management incentives with shareholder value creation.
Other than Barry Rosenstein, Jana's founder, none of us has ever run for
a contested board seat, but we believe the opportunity in addressing
issues like these is worth it. We believe that retail is a "sleeping
giant" that can generate an additional $30 per share just by addressing
these issues and even more value over the long term with better board
"Jana's nominees to Agrium's board appear highly credible to us."
(Bank of America, Jan. 29, 2013)
You have likely heard Agrium accusing us of riding in a "Trojan horse"
while wearing "golden leashes," and you will likely hear more colourful
attacks. Let us therefore clarify some things.
We have personally invested approximately $14-million in Agrium, and
Jana has invested over $1-billion, and none of us did so in order to
destroy the value of our investments. We encourage you to review our biographies at the Jana website. You'll see that we have spent years
working collaboratively to create significant value.
We have called for a fair review of whether retail should be a separate,
independent Canadian company. Many analysts believe that freeing retail, which has only been a large
part of Agrium for seven of its 82 years, could generate an additional $20
per share. This question is one on which "reasonable people can
disagree," as The Globe & Mail said last week, and even Agrium's chief executive officer
has said "[I]t's a good question to ask" (The Globe & Mail, Jan. 31, 2013). A
That is why we have asked for an independent review, not one that
starts with a predetermined result which seems to have been the case
with Agrium's review, and we would accept the results. And as a board
minority, we could only bring about change through consensus.
We are 100 per cent aligned with all shareholders and stand to gain only to the
extent that all shareholders gain. In addition to substantial personal investments, we also stand to gain
through a non-discretionary, automatic formula tied 100 per cent to stock
performance, like an option. It is true that Jana bears this expense,
but that is true of every expense in this effort, which has already led
to substantial value-creating change for shareholders. Despite Agrium's misleading claims, none of us will be bound by any duty
other than our fiduciary duty as directors. All of us qualify as independent directors under Canadian securities
laws and Agrium's own governance guidelines.
"Jana is nominating a retail 'dream team' to Agrium's board, which
does not have one independent member with retail distribution
(Barron's, Nov. 26, 2012)
Now it's up to you. The annual meeting is April 9t We encourage you
to look past the rhetoric and focus on Agrium's value potential. With
your support, we can all help Agrium aim higher.
Lyle Vanclief, PC, PAG (dist)
© 2013 Canjex Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.