AECOM announces more board changes, draws praise from Starboard


BOSTON (Reuters) – AECOM on Tuesday announced plans for more new directors to join its board, prompting praise from activist investor Starboard Value which had been pushing for changes.

Diane Creel and Sander van’t Noordende will officially join the board in February but will begin work now while Lydia Kennard will join the board effective next week, the company said in a statement.

With these changes most of AECOM’s board members will have been replaced over the course of the last year.

The move comes just six months after Starboard partner Peter Feld stepped down from the board in protest over the selection of a new chief executive that sidestepped a search process that he oversaw.

Starboard ranks as one of AECOM’s ten largest investors, owning 7.7 million shares at the end of the third quarter, according to a regulatory filing. The hedge fund has owned shares since the second quarter of 2019 and raised its stake during the third quarter of 2020, filings show.

“We are pleased with these additional changes to the board of AECOM resulting in seven of the eleven board members having been appointed within the past year,” Starboard’s Feld said in the company statement.

AECOM’s stock performance has been strong this year, rising 18.7% since January and gaining 22% in the last three months.

The company’s CEO, Troy Rudd, said, “we are pleased with Starboard’s partnership as we continue to deliver on our shared goal of delivering value to all AECOM shareholders.”

Starboard is one of the industry’s busiest activist investors and won 17 board seats at four companies in the first half of 2020, far more than any other activist firm.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Matthew Lewis)