ETFS Capital Nominates 3 Candidates to WisdomTree Board

The largest shareholder cited the need to improve ‘dismal performance.’

RonDay
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Managing Editor
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Reviewed by: Ron Day
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Edited by: Ron Day

WisdomTree Investment Inc.’s largest shareholder has nominated a trio of candidates to the exchange-traded fund issuer’s board of directors as part of an effort to reverse what it calls “dismal performance.”  

U.K.-based investing firm ETFS Capital, owner of a slate of ETF industry-related companies, nominated Tonia Pankopf, managing partner of New York investing firm Pareto Advisors, and Bruce Aust, strategic advisor to New York-based Anthemis Group and former Nasdaq vice chairman, according to a letter issued Wednesday to the WisdomTree board. ETFS Capital Chairman Graham Tuckwell was also nominated.  

ETFS Capital, etf.com’s parent company, has seen the value of its stake in New York-based WisdomTree shrink since April 2018, when it sold a business to the company and took most of the payment in stock. WisdomTree’s shares have declined about 34% over that period. 

“It is clear to us that further change to the WisdomTree Board is urgently required to trigger the actions needed to get the company back on track,” ETFS Capital’s Managing Director Martyn James said. “We believe that the election of our slate of exceptionally qualified nominees is the change needed to trigger those actions.”  

WisdomTree has issued 80 ETFs in the U.S., with assets under management of $61.2 billion, according to etf.com data. Its shares gained 2.1% by midday to $6.23.  

ETFS Capital—which has also invested in the trade publication ETF Stream and crypto exchange-traded product issuer 21Shares among its portfolio of companies—said in a statement that it owns 10.2% of WisdomTree’s outstanding shares. That total climbs to 18.3% when combined with its series A preferred stock, it said.  

The company has been lobbying for change at WisdomTree over the past few years, and last year successfully pushed to have Deborah Fuhr and Lynn Blake elected to the board of directors. ETFS Capital said it was “instrumental” in getting WisdomTree to begin a phased declassification of its board.  

“The Board has failed to provide the necessary management oversight resulting in massive stockholder value destruction,” ETFS Capital wrote in the letter. 

The letter to WisdomTree also took aim at what it called “long-tenured incumbent directors”—board chairman Frank Salerno, Win Neuger and Anthony Bossone.  

 

Contact Ron Day at  [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @RonDayETF   

Ron Day is Managing Editor at etf.com. He joined the company in October 2022 and previously served as editor and deputy managing editor.

Ron covered business and financial news at Bloomberg News for 20 years, working on the breaking news, technology, commodities, headlines and First Word teams. He was previously senior editor at ESG news outlet Karma Impact and filled the same role at Boundless Impact. He also covered a variety of beats at New Jersey daily papers including the Daily Record in Parsippany, the North Jersey Herald & News and the Asbury Park Press. Ron's freelance work has been published in AARP.com, Investopedia.com and BigThink.com.

Ron is an advocate and fan of literacy. He hopes to one day master his Telecaster, rather than the other way around. His wonderful family includes a 10-lb. malti-poo named Emmy.