American activist investors seek regulatory order delaying TransAlta annual meeting

A woman walks towards the entrance of the TransAlta headquarters building in Calgary on April 29, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

U.S. activist investors trying to force operational and board of directors changes at TransAlta Corp. are asking regulators to call a hearing into its upcoming annual general meeting.

In response, TransAlta chairman Gordon Giffin says in a news release the applications are “inappropriate, unwarranted and without merit.”

American firms Mangrove Partners and Bluescape Energy Partners, who together hold about 10 per cent of TransAlta’s shares, say in a news release they are asking the Alberta and Ontario securities commissions to force a delay in the upcoming April 26 meeting until at least June 1.

The Calgary-based power utility announced two weeks ago that Brookfield Renewable Partners and its institutional partners had signed a $750-million deal to invest in the company’s hydro assets, adding Brookfield would also purchase shares to increase its stake to nine per cent.

READ MORE: CEO defends TransAlta investment deal with Brookfield after U.S. investors seek option to cancel

The arrangement is to be voted on at the upcoming meeting but the U.S. firms charge shareholders face “coercion” because the transaction is linked with the election of management’s director nominees.

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Mangrove and Bluescape say they want the regulators to make acceptance of the deal conditional on results of a vote of shareholders not having an interest in the Brookfield transaction, thus excluding Brookfield.

The U.S. investors say the Brookfield deal was “rushed” and prevents TransAlta from looking at potential better options.

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