Bulldog Investors Quotes Animal Farm and Mark Twain in Letter to RIT Managment by The Official Activist Investing Blog
In a letter sent to the management team of LMP Real Estate Income Fund (RIT), Bulldog Investors calls them out for cheating and quotes the book Animal Farm and Mark Twain.
We find Phil Goldstein, of Bulldog Investors, to be quite witty in his letters to Management, and thought you would also enjoy reading.
The full version of the letter can be found here.
Here are a few quotes from the letter:
Management says it is fully justified in issuing a proxy card that does not allow shareholders to vote for or against our proposal for a self-tender offer. Its reason is the same as the one given by Squealer the Pig in George Orwell’s Animal Farm to explain why allowing democratic decision making by the animals was dangerous:
Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? (emphasis added)
For the record, we hereby give management permission to allow shareholders to vote on our proposal on its proxy card. If it refuses to do so, that is its own choice!
Obviously, an election cannot be called fair if only one side has access to the shareholder list. Yet, until we were on the verge of suing, management refused to provide us with the list. On March 30th, we requested a copy of the list of shareholders of RIT. Management stalled and did not even respond until April 7th when it sent us a letter denying our request. Management’s reason: “We don’t have to give you the shareholder list.” Meanwhile, management was feverishly soliciting shareholders while we were unable to contact them. We then told management we would sue if it did not immediately give us the shareholder list. Late the next day, management finally agreed to provide the shareholder list – but it insisted that we had to go to Legg Mason’s office to pick it up (rather than just emailing it to us even though it had the list in an electronic format). We then sent a courier to Legg Mason’s office but he was given a hard copy of the shareholder list with such tiny print that it was practically illegible. We complained to management and again threatened to sue. Finally, on April 13th, we received a legible copy of the shareholder list.
It is clear that management’s unethical stalling and gamesmanship was designed to gain an unfair advantage. In our book, that is cheating.
Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (emphasis added)