(Adds Glass Lewis recommendation)
By Michael Flaherty
May 23 (Reuters) - Two proxy advisory firms threw their weight behind Land and Buildings Investment Management LLC on Tuesday, supporting the real estate-focused hedge fund in its effort to obtain two seats on the board of Taubman Centers Inc .
Taubman, based in Bloomfield, Michigan, is a $3.7 billion U.S. mall operator that also has an Asia subsidiary.
The activist investor targeted Taubman in 2016, saying the company was underperforming its peers and taking particular aim at the leadership of Chief Executive Bobby Taubman.
Land and Buildings, founded by former real estate analyst Jonathan Litt, has criticized Taubman for cost overruns and delayed mall developments. Taubman’s stock has fallen 11 percent since May 2015.
Proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)recommended on Monday that Taubman shareholders vote for Litt and fellow dissident board candidate Charles Elson, a University of Delaware finance professor and corporate governance expert.
Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis also recommended election of Litt and Elson to the board.
A Taubman Centers spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
In April, Land and Buildings urged Taubman’s shareholders to elect its nominees, a move that came six months after the hedge fund asked the company to explore strategic options, including a sale or a spin-off of certain assets.
The hedge fund said Taubman should take steps to address the substantial difference between the company’s stock and its net asset value.
The Stamford, Connecticut-based hedge fund owns about 1.2 percent of Taubman’s shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Glass Lewis, in a report that followed ISS’s recommendation, said the Taubman board was in need of a shake-up.
“Based upon our review and interactions, we view the Taubman board as an old-style board in need of further change and refreshment beyond the largely cosmetic and reactive changes it has made to date,” Glass Lewis said on Tuesday.
Reporting by Michael Flaherty in New York and Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Steve Orlofsky