May 8, 2019 / 10:08 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Fund firm GAM excludes sacked fund manager from AGM

(Adds shareholder vote, details)

By Tom Bergin

ZURICH, May 8 (Reuters) - GAM Holding AG blocked Tim Haywood, the fund manager sacked for misconduct last year in a scandal that prompted a collapse in the Swiss firm's share price, from attending its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

Investors at the meeting failed to grant formal approval of the board's performance following months of turmoil after its decision to suspend its top money manager, which triggered an investor exodus and a sharp fall in the company's shares.

Haywood, who had travelled from Britain to attend the meeting, said he had purchased shares in March or April. But Zurich-based GAM said his shares had not been registered in time to entitle him entry to the meeting on Wednesday.

Only correctly registered shareholders have a right to attend Annual General Meetings.

Haywood said he wished to attend so that he could vote against the acceptance of the annual report – an agenda item for the meeting - on the basis that it contained, in his view, erroneous accusations against him.

GAM accused the fund manager of failing to do or record correct due diligence on investments.

Haywood said he rejected the charges of misconduct and said GAM's accusations against him were hurting the company's effort to repair its damaged reputation, which had contributed to outflows from GAM funds of billions of Swiss francs.

"The GAM narrative is not going to change until they treat me fairly," Haywood told reporters in the lobby of the Zurich hotel where the meeting was being held.

Haywood said he still hopes to win the appeal against his sacking.

Reuters reported last week how a GAM whistleblower who alerted British financial regulators about Haywood's behaviour did so over concerns about the purchase of more than half a billion pounds worth of bonds which were backed by around 22 million pounds ($28.67 million) worth of idle power generators.

Investors rejected a motion to discharge the leadership from legal liability for their actions last year, with investors representing only 49.4 percent of shares supporting the motion, short of the majority required.

The step has no immediate repercussions for the leadership, but makes it easier for shareholders to take legal action.

Chairman Hugh Scott-Barrett said the board acknowledged the vote, given what he described as GAM had experienced its "most demanding year" since it floated on public markets.

"We understand the decision of some shareholders in the context of the continuing liquidation of the ARBF fund," he said in reference to the Absolute Return Bond Fund, which was managed by Haywood and which was wound down after he was suspended. ($1 = 0.7673 pounds) (Reporting by Tom Bergin, editing by Louise Heavens)

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