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Aerojet Rocketdyne, chairman at odds

A fight has broken out between US propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne and its executive chairman, who is seeking to seat his own slate of directors on the company's board.

The chairman, Warren Lichtenstein, is proposing to elect three new directors and re-elect only himself and three of the other seven incumbents. He made the nominations through his investment firm, Steel Partners Holdings, which owns 4.9% of Aerojet Rocketdyne's stock.

In a 1 February filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Steel said its slate would help ensure that Aerojet Rocketdyne is “optimally positioned” to continue as a standalone entity if Lockheed Martin's proposed USD4.4 billion acquisition of the propulsion company does not become a reality. The US Federal Trade Commission announced in late January that it is suing to block the purchase to preserve competition in the missile market. Lockheed Martin could oppose the lawsuit or cancel the acquisition.

In a statement, Aerojet Rocketdyne criticised Lichtenstein's proposal as “disruptive” and said it might be an attempt to “secure his board position and gain leverage” during the company's “ongoing internal investigation” of him. Aerojet Rocketdyne did not describe the nature of its investigation, other than to say it is “not related to the company's operations or financial reporting”.

Steel said it wants its slate considered at Aerojet Rocketdyne's 2022 annual stockholders' meeting. A date for the meeting has not been announced.

A Lockheed Martin spokesperson declined to comment on the dispute.

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