WisdomTree Declines to Nominate Fuhr for Reelection

ETF industry expert passed over amid ETFS Capital proxy struggle.

RonDay
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Managing Editor
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Reviewed by: Lisa Barr
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Edited by: Sean Allocca

WisdomTree Investment Inc. has declined to nominate longtime exchange-traded fund industry expert Deborah Fuhr for reelection to its board of directors, as the ETF issuer battles with its biggest shareholder over the company’s direction. 

New York-based WisdomTree, which manages $61.9 billion in assets and 80 ETFs, didn’t give a reason for its decision in an April 19 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, simply stating “the Board had determined that Ms. Fuhr not be included in the Board’s slate of nominees at the Annual Meeting.”  

The board change comes as the battle for direction of WisdomTree heats up. The company’s biggest shareholder, U.K.-based investing firm ETFS Capital, has been urging changes at WisdomTree, and earlier this month nominated a trio of candidates to the company’s board as part of an effort to reverse what it calls “dismal performance.”  

ETFS Capital sent a letter Monday to the WisdomTree board, which it said “egregiously” chose to not nominate Fuhr. 

“Ms. Fuhr was and remains extremely qualified to serve as a director of the company,” the letter said, adding that ETFS Capital owns a stake worth in excess of $180 million in WisdomTree.  

Fuhr, founder and owner of ETF research firm ETFGI, joined the WisdomTree board in May 2022 as part of an earlier slate of candidates proposed by ETFS Capital, which owns 10.2% of WisdomTree’s outstanding stock. ETFS Capital is also the parent company of etf.com, and Fuhr was recently named to the news site’s Editorial Advisory Board

“It appears to us that they have simply paid meager lip service to her tenure on the Board since May 2022 and have now removed her at the first possible opportunity,” the letter to the board said. It also took issue with Fuhr’s replacement nominee Shamla Naidoo, saying she was unqualified due to her lack of experience in the ETF industry. 

ETFS Capital has seen the value of its stake in WisdomTree shrink since April 2018, when it sold a business to the company and took most of the payment in stock. ETFS Capital earlier this month said WisdomTree’s shares have declined about 34% over that period.  

ETFS Capital on April 12 nominated its chairman Graham Tuckwell along with 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, to the WisdomTree board. 

ETFS Capital’s WisdomTree stake climbs to 18.3% when combined with its series A preferred stock.  

  

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.