Blucora Inc. shareholders on Wednesday rejected a bid by dissident candidates to remake the board of directors by adding four newcomers to its current roster of 10 members. Blucora is the owner of the independent broker-dealer Avantax Investment Services Inc., which focuses on tax professionals and CPAs and works with 3,750 financial advisers.
The shareholders reelected the 10 current board members, backed by the company, and said no to four newcomers proposed by Ancora Holdings Inc., a registered investment adviser that owns 3.4% of Blucora shares.
Ancora has criticized Blucora for mishandling the broker-dealer. “Avantax can become a gem of the wealth management industry and a growing, thriving business if its advisers finally receive the respect, support and treatment they deserve,” wrote the slate of four board candidates proposed by Ancora in a March letter to the firm’s advisers.
Blucora fired back, noting in a letter to stockholders on Monday, two days before the election, that since it replaced its CEO and CFO in January 2020, the company had “undergone significant, positive change.” That included hiring a new team in its wealth management business to focus on technology, aligned pricing of advisory services and created more localized support for advisers.
Blucora’s board took a conciliatory tone in a statement on Wednesday.
“We have learned from our dialogue with our stockholders and appreciate the continued support,” the company said, noting that the results were preliminary and will be certified by an independent inspector. “We know we have substantially more work to do, but we appreciate the recognition from our stockholders that Blucora is a profoundly different and stronger company than it was just a year ago.”
Frederick DiSanto, chair and CEO of Ancora, which manages $8.7 billion in assets across a variety of RIAs, was one of the dissident board candidates. He did not return a call on Thursday morning to comment.
Blucora has purchased two broker-dealers in half-a-dozen years to expand into the wealth management business. In October 2015, the firm announced its acquisition of HD Vest Financial Services Inc. for $580 million from private equity owners, and in 2019 it said it was paying $180 million in stock for 1st Global Inc., an independent broker-dealer that focuses on taxes and CPAs.
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