Alston & Bird Scores Landslide Proxy Contest Victory for Onvia, Inc.
In the Press
June 13, 2012
An Alston & Bird team led by Washington, D.C. partner Keith E. Gottfried scored a landslide victory in successfully defending publicly traded client Onvia, Inc., against a proxy contest brought by an insurgent stockholder group that was seeking to replace three of Onvia’s directors with its own nominees. Onvia, based in Seattle, is a leading provider of comprehensive government-to-business market intelligence.
Onvia had sought Keith’s help earlier this year after an insurgent stockholder group, holding just under 15 percent of Onvia’s common stock, had notified the company that it intended to nominate three candidates for election to the company’s board of directors at the company’s 2012 annual meeting of stockholders. In the months that followed, the Alston & Bird team, led by Keith, aggressively defended Onvia against the proxy contest and worked to expedite Onvia’s proxy statement through the Securities and Exchange Commission; craft fight letters, press releases, investor presentations and other messaging pieces; advise Onvia on how best to present its case to the leading proxy advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS); and advise Onvia in forming a strategy to solicit votes from its stockholders. Following a contested and public proxy battle that occurred over a two-month period—and after the two major proxy advisory firms recommended that stockholders vote for the re-election of all Onvia’s board nominees—at Onvia’s annual meeting of stockholders held on May 31, 2012, the slate of nominees proposed by the insurgent stockholder group was overwhelmingly defeated and all of Onvia’s director nominees were re-elected.
In its press release announcing the results of its 2012 annual meeting, the company was proudly able to announce the re-election by an “overwhelming majority” of its incumbent board. “We appreciate the strong support of our stockholders and look forward to being able to move beyond the distraction of a proxy contest and return our full attention to delivering on Onvia’s very significant potential and enhancing value for all Onvia stockholders,” said Hank Riner, the company’s chief executive officer.