Specialty re/insurer Argo has labelled the latest criticisms from Voce Capital Management, a 5.6% shareholder in the company, as “misleading” and “simply wrong.”
A back-and-forth between the two companies has been ongoing since February, when Voce accused Argo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mark E. Watson III of perpetuating “shockingly high and shockingly inappropriate” corporate expenses over the past ten years.
Most recently, Voce addressed Argo’s response to accusations it misused corporate assets, calling the firm’s explanations “selective” and “hair-splitting.”
In response to this, Argo has called into question the veracity of Voce’s narrative and recurring criticisms, stating that the activist investor continues to make “false and misleading statements.”
“It is clear that Voce’s intent is to distract investors from our proven track record of delivering value for shareholders,” reads Argo’s statement.
Argo adds that the properties identified in Voce’s press release are not corporate housing, but rather part of our investment property portfolio.
“They are income-producing assets purchased in connection with a Section 1031 like-kind real estate exchange following the sale of a commercial property in California.”
In addition, Argo says that, unlike the suppositions presented by Voce, the it has presented “facts which clearly discredit Voce’s allegations.”
“As previously stated, we have spent on average less than a million dollars per year over the past five years for named sponsorships, including those identified in Voce’s April 24, 2019 press release.”
Argo states that the flight log Voce referred to when calling calling into question the appropriate use of the company’s private jet is for an aircraft that was “neither owned by Argo, nor exclusively used by Argo.”
“When our executives use corporate aircraft for personal trips, they do so at their own expense.”
Argo’s statement concludes that the company is “committed to an open and constructive dialogue with all our investors. We are well positioned to deliver substantial and enduring value for our shareholders and look forward to updating them on our first quarter 2019 earnings results call.”