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United Airlines strikes deal with investors to avoid proxy battle


United Continental Holdings, the parent company of United Airlines, struck a deal with two investor groups on Wednesday, avoiding a proxy battle at its next shareholders meeting.

The carrier announced it will immediately add Edward Shapiro, managing partner at PAR and Barney Harford, former chief executive of Orbitz, to its board of directors.

United was facing a contentious proxy battle as two of its investors, Altimeter Capital Management and PAR Capital Management had intended to nominate its own slate of directors at the annual shareholder meeting. The investor groups previously said the “underqualified, ineffective, complacent and entrenched” board had led to the airline’s poor financial performance since the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines in 2010.

The Chicago-based airline also announced that three of its current board members, including non-executive chairman, Henry Meyer III, will retire and will not seek reelection. The board has elected Robert Milton, who joined the board on March 6, as its new non-executive chairman.

The deal struck with the investor groups includes adding a third independent director within six months.

“We are confident that the changes contemplated by the settlement agreement, when combined with the recent changes made by the board, will create a new board that is well positioned to help management to achieve United’s full potential,” Shapiro said in a statement.