RANGER Direct Lending (RDL) has got into a new spat with one of its shareholders, this time over who can vote on the management takeover of the alternative-finance focused investment trust.
RDL is already facing calls to be wound down and for its chairman to quit at this month’s annual shareholder meeting, but now one of the shareholders in the zero dividend preference shares (ZDP) version of the fund is unhappy.
Staude Capital, which owns 2.9 per cent of the ZDP class, has said it is concerned that RDL was not allowing it and other investors a vote on Ares becoming the new manager of the fund.
RDL said it was not required to give ZDP shareholders a vote as the amendments were not “materially prejudicial”.
But Staude Capital has claimed in an open letter to RDL that “the repayment of any amount less than the final capital entitlement of 127.63p per ZDP Share – due in July 2021 – would be materially prejudicial.”
The letter says the remaining management remains the entity with the best understanding of the underlying portfolio and warns the performance could be affected with someone new.
It also urges Oaktree Capital Management – which has called for the fund to be closed – and LIM Advisors- which wants chairman Christopher Waldron to step down – to clarify their position on the ZDP shares.
Analysts at Numis said the investment trust’s big discount to net asset value (NAV) won’t be resolved until these issues are addressed.
“The board has made it clear that it does not believe that the ZDP shareholders need a vote on the proposed change in investment strategy,” a Numis analyst note said.
“However, the continued public dialogue with shareholders highlights the difficulties the board is facing in gaining agreement of stakeholders for its proposals to appoint Ares to manage the portfolio.
“The ordinary shares are currently trading on a 20 per cent discount to NAV. We do not expect this to narrow until there is further clarity on the future strategy and expect it to be an interesting shareholder vote.”
Last week, Peer2Peer Finance News revealed that RDL shareholders LIM Advisors have submitted a proposal to expel chairman Christopher Waldron from the board, with a vote due to take place during the annual shareholder meeting on 19 June.
“We feel the chairman should take responsibility for the loss of NAV from investing in Princeton and from a very muddled approach to the strategic review which started in January,” said Nick Paris, director of RDL shareholder LIM Advisors in London. “Somebody should take the blame for the losses last year and what’s been going on this year.”
LIM Advisors has joined fellow shareholder Oaktree Capital Management in calling for the fund to be wound down. The shareholders – which own a combined 28 per cent stake in RDL – have concluded that the fund is unable to scale up to a sufficient size, and both LIM and Oaktree have expressed concerns about the new investment management strategy.
Read more: Ranger NAV flatlines amid fund closure talks