Ex-Continental CEO Bethune Leads Shareholder Revolt at United

By Paul Riegler on 8 March 2016
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DSC_0295The skies are much less friendly at United Airlines these days. Shareholders of United Continental are publicly challenging the airline’s board of directors after the company announced Monday it would add four new independent directors.

Two shareholders, Altimeter Capital Management and Par Capital Management, which together own about 7.1% of United’s shares, put forward a slate of six director candidates led by Gordon Bethune, the well-regarded former CEO of Continental Airlines.

Bethune was Continental’s CEO until 2004. The airline merged with United in 2010.

In a statement, Altimeter and Par said they began their proxy fight after weeks of talks with the airline and its board.

“We have been greatly disappointed with United’s poor performance and bad decisions over the last several years,” said Brad Gerstner, Altimeter Capital’s CEO.

“We have no more confidence that you will act responsibly in the future (even with yesterday’s announcement) than we have evidence that you have done so in the past,” said Gerstner and Paul A. Reeder, the chief executive of Par, in a public letter to United’s board.

United expressed disappointment at the prospect of a proxy battle.

In response, Henry Meyer, the airline’s non-executive chairman, said, “We are deeply disappointed that after United attempted to engage in a constructive, good-faith dialogue with PAR and Altimeter, repeatedly communicated our willingness to make meaningful changes in our board, publicly announced our intention to name four new independent directors with deep relevant experience and named three of them yesterday, PAR and Altimeter have unilaterally taken this hostile action with no concern that a proxy fight could distract the company from executing on Oscar’s strategic plan.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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