TransAlta Corp. won’t entertain new talks with a U.S. activist investor after it filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the power producer’s $750-million partnership deal with Brookfield Renewable Partners LP, TransAlta’s chairman says.
The deal with Brookfield, aimed at speeding up TransAlta’s shift to gas from coal-fired power, will close as planned next week, chairman Gordon Giffin said at the annual meeting on Friday.
New York-based Mangrove Partners Master Fund Ltd., which has sought to upend TransAlta’s deal since late March, filed suit this week after abandoning an effort to get securities regulators to hold a separate shareholder vote on the transaction. Mr. Giffin and chief executive Dawn Farrell said they had engaged in discussions often with Mangrove, but no more.
“I’m having no discussions with people who file that kind of drivel,” Mr. Giffin told reporters. “If they want to stop the foolishness and become constructive shareholders, of course we will talk to them.”
Mangrove, which has 7.1 per cent of TransAlta shares, complains that the company’s board and management are putting their own interests before those of shareholders by selling Brookfield a stake in the prized hydro assets. The company has said the deal achieves many of the objectives that the activists and other shareholders had been clamouring for, including funding a share buyback.
The dissidents had said they would withhold votes for three of TransAlta’s director nominees, but all 12 received more than 90-per-cent support from shareholders, according to the company.
In its lawsuit, Mangrove said Brookfield had proposed takeovers of TransAlta in 2015 and 2017. Ms. Farrell said on Friday that TransAlta rejected such overtures because its shares had been beaten down by investor fears over the Alberta government’s mandated end to coal-fired generation, fears that have since been largely assuaged.
“We never accepted the offers because the company was always under trading in its value because of the way the external environment was being seen for the company," she said. "There was no way to do a transaction for the bigger company, so we didn’t.”
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