VP from angry shareholder to join Viterra board

The largest shareholder in Canada’s largest grain company, after publicly criticizing the company’s board of directors as "unresponsive and unaligned," now has a seat at the table.

Edmonton-based pension and endowment management firm AIMco, a Crown-owned investment company, will see its senior vice-president for public equities, Brian Gibson, join the board of Viterra.

"We are pleased to have representation from our largest shareholder on our board, and we look forward to working with AIMCo and Mr. Gibson to continue to build shareholder value," Viterra chairman Thomas Birks said in a company release Friday announcing Gibson’s appointment.

"I am pleased to be joining the Viterra board and look forward to working with Viterra to increase shareholder value," Gibson said in the same release. "AIMCo remains committed to Viterra’s long-term success."

Gibson’s job description puts him in charge of the team responsible for all AIMCo’s investments in publicly-traded equities. He has an MBA from the University of Toronto and an ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors in Canada.

"Required skills"

AIMCo, whose portfolio includes a 17 per cent stake in Viterra, said Nov. 1 it has been the company’s single biggest shareholder now since 2009 and has become "dissatisfied with Viterra’s performance."

The fund manager said it had identified and repeatedly called on Viterra’s board and chairman for months to make "several governance changes that we believe are critical to Viterra’s long-term success."

Among those, AIMCo had said it "does not believe that the current Viterra board has the required skills or experience to meet the company’s leadership needs as a growing international agribusiness."

Calgary-based Viterra’s boardroom will have two empty seats come March when the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting is held, as two directors — Saskatchewan farmer Vic Bruce and South Australia farmer Paul Daniel — have said they will not seek re-election to the board.

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