Hedge fund Voce urges Argo to slash expenses, nominates five directors

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) – An activist hedge fund on Tuesday nominated five directors and urged insurance company Argo Group International Holdings Ltd to cut $100 million in expenses, including corporate jets and housing for its chief executive.

Voce Capital Management LLC wants Argo shareholders to back its plan to double return on equity at the company’s annual meeting next month, saying the current board is responsible for a “culture of indulgence,” according to a securities filing, seen by Reuters.

Voce, a $250 million hedge fund run by J. Daniel Plants, said Argo’s return on equity could climb to over 10 percent from an average of 5.7 percent if it slashed expenses such as the jets, sponsorships and CEO pay and housing, including a waterfront villa in Bermuda and a penthouse apartment in New York City.

“The numbers Plants has put forward are fantasy,” an Argo representative said.

The hedge fund owns 5.6 percent of $2.4 billion Argo, which specializes in insurance and reinsurance products in property and casualty insurance. Voce announced plans to push for changes in February.

Voce’s director candidates have global insurance and capital allocation expertise plus public company board experience. Voce proposes to replace five directors,