Nitro at Netro: Proxy Fight Targets CFO

Explosive stuff: dissident shareholder claims company's management lied to investors; also says executives using finance chief to discredit his cam...
Lisa YoonMay 17, 2002

>> CFO Sanjay Khare of Netro Corp. was targeted by shareholder C. Robert Coates — latest in Coates’ running battle with telecom-equipment maker and its directors… Coates, who along with fellow investor David Kennedy is running for seat on Netro’s board, made public appeal to Khare to “honor disclosure rules.” In statement this week, Coates accused Netro management of employing unfair tactics to win votes for their slate of directors. Claims executives fixed wireless broadband company even calling shareholders “at home, at night, to ask for their votes.” Also charges that Netro is sending CFO Khare as their wing man, wooing special investors by giving inside information.

Here’s what Coates had to say about Khare. “Netro’s directors and CEO have sent their CFO, Sanjay Khare, out to campaign for Netro’s directors. We know that Netro’s CFO has made special presentations to several high priority investors. Apparently, these presentations contain much more information than Netro has provided in its filings with the SEC.” Coates went on to claim that Netro’s CFO has asked shareholders to keep this information confidential and not share it with other investors. Says Coates: “We are disappointed by this win-at-any-cost mentality that benefits Netro’s management and the directors at the expense of shareholders.”

For the past several weeks, Coates, who owns more than 2.4 million shares of the San Jose, Calif.-based company, has been leading a two-man crusade (with Kennedy) against Netro management and board. Mostly, Coates has accused management of ineptly managing company’s finances and misleading (“lying to,” he claims) shareholders about performance…

Not surprisingly, Netro management telling shareholders to ignore Coates. On May 3, Netro CEO Gideon Ben-Efraim sent letter to shareholders. In it, Netro chief executive said: “You may have also received a solicitation from Mr. Coates urging you to elect him and his associate to the Netro Board of Directors. We at Netro believe many of these announcements and solicitations to be unsupported and not in the best interests of your company. We urge you not to return any proxy card to Mr. Coates.”

Stay tuned on this one.

>> For those of you who like more sedate news: Stephen Prostano was named COO and CFO of Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management, the private wealth-management division of Amvescap…. Prostano joins from FleetBoston Financial Corp., where he was executive VP and managing director of private clients group…At Fleet, also helped build up bank’s ultra-high net-worth business (apparently, high-net worth doesn’t cut it anymore). Before that, Prostano was president and COO of Chase Asset Management.