March 20, 2018 / 12:38 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Starboard says four of its Newell board nominees pull out

(Adds details from Starboard statement, background on proxy fight)

March 20 (Reuters) - Four of activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP's nominees to Newell Brands Inc's board of directors withdrew their nominations, a day after the consumer products maker gave billionaire investor Carl Icahn four board seats.

If Starboard does decide to contest board elections at Newell, it would reduce its slate of nominees to a minority of the board, the Jeffrey Smith-led hedge fund said on Tuesday.

Starboard had put forward a 12-member slate to replace Newell's board, arguing that Newell has underperformed its peers and mismanaged its $15.4 billion acquisition of Jarden Corp in 2016.

The hedge fund said Ian Ashken, Domenico De Sole, Martin Franklin and James Lillie — all former Jarden executives — had collectively withdrawn their nominations.

Starboard had teamed up with the ex-Jarden executives in its effort to gain full control of Newell's board and oust its CEO Michael Polk.

"We believe that our collective actions have moved (Newell) substantially ... given the circumstances, we plan to focus on other opportunities but fully support Starboard in their deliberations," Franklin said in a statement.

Newell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its shares rose 0.8 percent to $27.00 in premarket trading on Tuesday.

Newell, the maker of Sharpie pens, struck a deal on Monday with Icahn to appoint four of his nominees to its board, in a snub to Starboard.

Icahn said on Monday his views on company strategy were aligned with those of Newell, including on its "expanded transformation plan" that includes selling off some businesses. (Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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