Arctic cruise operator Lindblad names directors backed by activist firm to its board

San Francisco-based ValueAct recently upped its shares in the cruise company to nearly 10 percent.

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Reuters - March 26, 2020
The expedition cruise ship National Geographic Explorer is seen at Monaco Glacier in Leifdefjord, in Svalbard’s Northwest Spitsbergen National Park. (Ralph Lee Hopkins / Lindblad Expeditions)

BOSTON — Lindblad Expeditions on Thursday said it named two independent directors backed by activist investment firm ValueAct Capital, which owns a nearly 10 percent stake in the adventure cruise company, to its board.

Lindblad, which operates expedition-style cruises around the world in connection with National Geographic, is a significant operator in the Arctic.

New York-based Lindblad appointed Thomas Smith, a former chief executive of auction house Sothebys, and Sarah Farrell, an associate at ValueAct, to fill two vacant seats on its eight member board, the company said in a regulatory filing.

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Two weeks ago, ValueAct, the San Francisco-based activist investment firm known for staying out of the public eye and negotiation with companies in private, increased its ownership in Lindblad to 9.8 percent from 7.4 percent. ValueAct is the second largest investor in the $250 million company.

Landblad’s share price has tumbled 62 percent in the last month as fears over the coronavirus pandemic have halted virtually all travel.

“Lindblad’s board has always been a source of wisdom for our management team in all ways and adding two new members with distinct backgrounds and experience simply adds to an already solid board,” board chairman Mark Ein said in a regulatory filing.