Shareholder Voce doubles down on Argo criticism, presents board nominees

08-03-2019

5.8 percent shareholder Voce Capital has increased its efforts to attack Argo Group and its CEO Mark Watson III through a new website, along with presenting its nominees for election to the Argo board of directors.

The website makes extraordinary claims about the the company's corporate expenses, and takes aim at Watson's personal life, which Argo’s board quickly dismissed as misleading, inaccurate, and a “personal attack” on the CEO.

In a statement on the website, Voce says: “Argo’s current strategy and expense structure – including shockingly high corporate expenses – is costing shareholders dearly. Voce believes that change is urgently needed and has nominated five highly-qualified, independent director candidates who bring the independence and experience that is desperately needed to rein in management and maximize shareholder value.”

As an attempt to remedy the situation it describes, Voce has put forward five nominees for election to Argo's board, including: Bernard Bailey, president of the Committee for Economic Development; Charles Dangelo, former senior executive at Starr Companies; Kathleen Dussault, a former senior executive of the US Navy; Carol McFate, former chief investment officer of Xerox; and Nicholas Walsh, who has served in a number of senior management positions over his 40 years at AIG.

Voce, which describes itself as a research-driven investment adviser, had previously sent a 7,000-word letter it made public on Monday February 25, which heavily criticised Argo’s performance and leadership. Voce is the fourth-largest shareholder of Argo Group, with 1.9 million shares.

Argo had dismissed the claims, suggesting the letter ignores the Bermuda re/insurer's track record of value creation for its shareholders, citing 1, 3 and 5-year period total shareholder returns of 39 percent, 69 percent and 136 percent, respectively.  From 2010 to 2018, Argo returned in excess of $645 million of capital to shareholders

Argo Group, Voce Capital, Mark Watson, Bermuda

Bermuda Re