Sika board facing new legal battles

According to reports, the controlling shareholders of Sika have launched a new legal challenge against its board after their vote was restricted at a second successive annual general meeting.

The Burkard family, which owns 52% of Sika’s voting rights, wants to sell its stake to French industrial conglomerate Saint-Gobain. But Sika’s directors object to the takeover and have controversially foiled attempts to vote them off the board by artificially limiting AGM votes.
For a second year in a row the Burkard family members, via their Schenker-Winkler Holding (SWH) structure, have lodged a legal objection to their voting rights being stifled. Last year, a court refused to deliver a definitive verdict until another legal issue had been cleared up.
That ruling – on whether the Burkards can sell their stake via SWH without prior Sika board approval -. is expected this autumn. The Burkard clan are descendants of the company’s founder, Kaspar Winkler.
In the meantime, the battle within the company rages on with neither side showing any signs of backing down. SWH has also previously lodged claims for damages against individual Sika board members. Those directors are currently working without pay having had their compensation packages rejected at successive AGMs.
Meanwhile Saint-Gobain has repeatedly stated that it will bide its time to win the prize of one of Switzerland’s most successful industrial companies. If the transfer of Burkard shares goes through, Saint-Gobain would control more than half of the company’s voting rights with just 16% of the firm’s capital.