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AVI's Treanor Responds to Symphony's Letter on the Recently Launched Public Campaign

·2-min read

On 29-Apr-21, Asset Value Investors (AVI) launched a public campaign calling for shareholder support to remove and replace the Board of Directors of Symphony International Limited (‘SIHL’).

AVI notes the response from Anil Thadani, Chairman and Founder of the Investment Manager, published on 6-May-21:

Symphony International Holdings Limited ("Symphony" or "SIHL") Response in relation to Asset Value Investors Limited

It is telling that it is Mr Thadani responding, when the core of our grievances made public last week rests on the independent directors seemingly being complicit in the way the company appears to be managed.

Why is the "Independent" Chairman, Georges Gagnebin, silent?

Why are shareholders asked to contact Mr Thadani with their concerns?

Yet again, we see Mr Thadani appear to stand sentry between shareholders and the "independent" directors.

The last letter from our BVI counsel to the Board dated 28-Jul-20 made clear that one of our next steps would be a public campaign.

And yet still Mr Thadani’s response fails to address any of our specific and substantive allegations.

In our correspondence with the Board, we suggested new approaches that include modifying the investment policy to focus on realising value from existing investments and returning capital to shareholders. This would not equate to a fire-sale, and a focus on realising investments is just one possible option that would be pursued under a new Board only if approved by a majority of shareholders.

We note Mr Thadani’s comment that the Company has "limited control…over its market-determined share price". We repeat again that while discounts can widen out sharply over short-term periods, it is simply not credible or sustainable to blame "the market" for a discount as persistent and extreme as that of SIHL’s.

As for the absurd contention that our publicity campaign would "destroy shareholder value", the company’s performance record and ~50% trading discount to NAV tell their own story as to who appears to have been doing exactly that for the last 14 years.

Since we made our concerns public, we have received a deluge of supportive messages from long-suffering shareholders who have shared our concerns regarding the company’s stewardship for some time. This makes us increasingly confident that we will be able to begin the next steps towards requisitioning an Extraordinary General Meeting at which we will seek the removal of the current Board and their replacement with new directors.

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Tom Treanor, Executive Director, Asset Value Investors