Argo responds to Voce on suggested board changes

11-03-2019

Argo Group International Holdings has released a statement commenting on the director nominees announced last week by investor Voce Capital Management, in the latest in a series of exchanges between the two.

Voce has been extremely critical or the way that Argo is run and has repeatedly criticised CEO Mark Watson III.

In its statement Argo said that its board of directors is committed to working in the best interest of all shareholders, and that Argo has in place a highly capable and engaged board.

It stated that: “Our directors’ deep industry expertise and company-specific skillset, focused on risk management, insurance operations, financial oversight, technology, distribution and corporate governance, are key to executing the board’s strong, independent oversight of Argo’s long-term strategy. The nominating committee of the board uses its robust evaluation process to regularly refresh the board, focusing on the skills and experience necessary to lead our business. As a result of our effective refreshment practices, the board has added five new independent directors in the past two years. Each of these independent directors has brought and demonstrated proven skillsets to help enhance and propel forward Argo’s strategic plan.

“While Voce continues to disseminate and publish ad hominem attacks, our directors and management team are focused on executing a compelling long-term, value-enhancing strategy. We are deliberate in our mission to deliver top-performing underwriting businesses and we continue to be keenly focused on driving efficiencies, as evidenced by the reduction of 260 basis points in our expense ratio in 2018.

“Our shareholders are seeing the results and track record of value creation:

  • Our TSR has outperformed both peers and the S&P 500 over the past one, three, and five years:
    • One year: 28 percent vs. peer mean of 4 percent and S&P 500 of 4 percent
    • Three year: 58 percent vs. peer mean of 34 percent and S&P 500 of 47 percent
    • Five year: 130 percent vs. peer mean of 78 percent and S&P 500 of 64 percent
  • Our book value per share, including dividends, has grown at a 9 percent CAGR since 2002.
  • We returned in excess of $645 million of capital to shareholders from 2010 to 2018.

“We are committed to engaging with all of our shareholders. We hope Voce will make its updated slate of nominees available to participate in interviews with our board’s independent nominating committee to evaluate their qualifications and experience – as would be the case for any shareholder-nominated candidate.

“Voce’s misleading attacks are designed to grab attention, but do nothing to build shareholder value, which the current board has proven it can do. We look forward to updating our shareholders on our continued strategic and financial progress.”

Argo, Voce, board of directors, Mark Watson, criticism, suggested nominees

Bermuda Re