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Ameron shareholders vote dissident onto board

March 30, 2011 |  3:01 pm

Shareholders of Pasadena industrial products company Ameron International Corp. turned against management on Wednesday, electing a dissident investor to the board despite the company’s attempts to discredit him.

Hedge fund Barington Group in New York said preliminary data showed that about 73% of votes cast at Ameron’s annual meeting were in favor of putting its chairman, James Mitarotonda, on the board.

Ameron confirmed that Mitarotonda had been elected but said it didn’t yet have a final vote tally.

Shareholders rejected one of Ameron’s director-nominees, David Davenport, but reelected CEO James Marlen, 70, to the board, the company said.

Barington, which owns 1.3% of Ameron’s shares, contends that Marlen has enriched himself with hefty compensation packages over the last 17 years while failing to manage the company to its full potential for shareholders. Ameron, in turn, questioned Mitarotonda's "integrity and ethics." The bitter proxy battle was the subject of this column in The Times last weekend.

Ameron manufactures infrastructure components such as large concrete and steel water pipes, fiberglass pipe for the oil and chemical industries, towers for wind turbines and street-lamp poles.

The company’s shares tumbled $4.93, or 6.6%, to $69.82 on Wednesday, though it’s unclear whether that was a reaction to the election or to Ameron’s first-quarter earnings report, or both.

Before the opening bell the company said it lost $4.3 million in its fiscal first quarter on sales of $109.8 million. Ameron blamed weather-related production problems and general softness in its businesses.

Mitarotonda said in a statement that his election showed that “stockholders overwhelmingly agree with us that there is a need for change at Ameron.”

-- Tom Petruno