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Blucora urges investors to reject Ancora's directors, plans

BOSTON, March 15 (Reuters) - Financial services firm Blucora Inc is urging shareholders to back its board and block a dissident investor’s effort to seat four directors, arguing it has already made key changes that are bearing fruit and that the outsider’s plans are “deeply flawed.”

“Blucora is on the right path to creating long-term value for all stockholders,” the Dallas-based company’s board wrote to shareholders asking them to vote for all of its director candidates instead of the four that activist investor Ancora Holdings Inc proposed. Reuters saw a copy of the letter.

Blucora’s directors wrote that they replaced the chief executive and chief financial officers early last year amid concerns about performance, positioned the company’s two tax-focused businesses for long-term growth, added four new independent directors in 2020 and 2021, and continued to review alternatives to how the business is currently set up.

In the six months to March 12, Blucora’s stock price climbed 73%. Over the past 12 months, the stock price, which gained 52%, bested the index and sector rivals.

“We believe Ancora’s proposed path is deeply flawed and would destroy shareholder value,” the letter said.

A representative for Ancora, which invests $8 billion, was not immediately available for comment.

Two weeks ago, Ancora, which owns a 3% stake in Blucora, a company valued at $837 million, nominated four directors to the board and called on it to consider selling its tax services business. Ancora argued there were few synergies between Blucora’s wealth management and registered advisory business, Avantax, and its TaxAct unit.

Blucora said that now was not the right time to sell TaxAct after the pandemic affected last year’s tax season and may have an impact on this year’s as well.

The company added its board candidates were more experienced than Ancora’s nominees, where only the firm’s chief executive officer, Frederick DiSanto, has public company experience. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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