A group that includes former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Roderick M. Hills, former U.S. Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and San Diego Economic Development Corp. Chairman George W. Leiszhas begun a proxy fight aimed at unseating five of San Diego-based Oak Industries' eight board members.
The dissident group will sponsor a board majority that would be "independent" of current Oak Chairman E. L. McNeely, according to a prepared release issued Tuesday by Hills.
Hills, nominated to Oak's board by McNeely in 1985, voiced "frustration" with the company's inability to report consistent operating profits and said it left him with "no alternative" except to challenge McNeely for control of the company. McNeely was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Oak, a high-flying media conglomerate during the late 1970s, fell upon hard times in the early 1980s and reported $300 million in net losses between 1981 and 1987. Since becoming chairman in 1984, McNeely has been trying to orchestrate a turnaround at the troubled company, which now basically is an electronic-components maker.
Hills initiated the proxy fight because "Oak keeps on raising cash and losing it through operations," according to a source associated with the dissident group. "For the first time in some time, Oak Industries shareholders will have a real choice, will have something to say" about Oak's stock, which has traded at about $1 for more than a year.