Superior Industries faces proxy fight over board members

Superior CEO Donald Stebbins: One of four board nominees.
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Aluminum wheel supplier Superior Industries International Inc. faces a shareholder proxy fight at its annual meeting next month.

GAMCO Asset Management Inc., Superior’s largest institutional shareholder, with an 8.5 percent equity stake, has notified the company that it plans to oppose management’s slate of directors and offer three nominees of its own during the annual meeting Aug. 15. A similar move was rebuffed by Superior’s shareholders last year.

Officials from Superior and GAMCO, also known in the investment world as the Gabelli Funds, weren’t available for comment this afternoon. But the Van Nuys, Calif., company said in a statement today that the battle is “needless, costly and distracting.”

Superior said GAMCO’s nominees are investment management professionals without executive-level manufacturing or automotive industry experience. GAMCO’s picks include a renomination of one of its choices that was already rejected by Superior’s board last year. The names of GAMCO’s nominees haven’t been disclosed.

Superior’s board recommendations are its recently hired CEO Donald Stebbins, the former CEO of supplier Visteon Corp.; Paul Humphries, president of High Reliability Solutions, a business group at Flextronics International Ltd., a supplier of safety, power controls and infotainment products; James McElya, chairman of Affinia Group, Inc., a supplier of automotive replacement products; and Francisco Uranga, corporate vice president for Foxconn Electronics Inc., an electronics manufacturer.

Superior told its shareholders in a letter, “We believe your Board's four director nominees have the integrity, knowledge, breadth of relevant and diverse experience and commitment necessary to navigate Superior through the complex, dynamic and highly competitive global business environment in which we operate and to deliver superior value to our stockholders.”

The company ranks No. 69 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 suppliers in North America, with $790 million in sales to automakers in 2013.

Superior shares declined 2 cents to $20.51 on the New York Stock Exchange today.

You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com. -- Follow Vince on Twitter


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