Oaktree pushes for board seats to help wind down Ranger Direct fund

NEW YORK, June 11 (Reuters) - Investor Oaktree Capital Management, the world’s largest distressed debt asset manager, said in a letter to shareholders on Monday it would continue a push to elect its two board nominees at Ranger Direct Lending Fund, a closed-end fund that announced it was winding itself down.

Ranger Direct Lending is listed in the U.K. but is a mostly North American credit portfolio. A wind-down means Ranger will close down its investments and return its more than $200 million assets to shareholders.

On Monday, Ranger said it would abandon its plan to bring aboard Ares Capital Management as its investment manager, following pushback from activist shareholders who wanted the fund shut down instead.

Ranger added that it would appoint additional independent directors to its board after consulting with shareholders to help shut down the fund, but does not support any board nominees selected by Oaktree, or another dissident shareholder that has nominated directors, Hong Kong-based investment adviser LIM Advisors.

Rangers’ earlier plan to appoint Ares and continue to trade publicly was opposed by Oaktree, a Los Angeles-based alternative asset manager with $121 billion under management and the second-largest shareholder in the company.

Ranger did not respond to a request for comment on Oaktree’s letter.

LIM Advisors is the third-largest investor in Ranger and also supports the shutdown. Together, the duo owned about 30 percent of Ranger’s stock as of Monday. LIM could not be reached for comment.

While Oaktree supports Ranger’s shutdown, it said in its letter Monday that the nominees it proposed, Dominik Dolenec and Greg Share, would help Ranger wind down the fund in an efficient manner.

A shutdown of the fund will see it halt investing in new loan portfolios and allow existing ones to mature, thereby returning cash to investors over a period of up to 18 months or so, according to a previous Oaktree letter.

Shareholders votes are due before this Friday, ahead of Ranger’s annual general meeting on June 19.

Ranger had a market capitalization of 129.95 million pounds ($173.86 million) on Monday.

$1 = 0.7474 pounds Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York Editing by Tom Brown