Barrett rebuys $60M of its stock

Action apparently ends bid to shake up board

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Barrett Business Services Inc. has reached an agreement to buy about 2.5 million shares from the estate of the late William Sherertz, who had been the Vancouver human resources company’s CEO, in a deal valued at nearly $60 million, the company said Monday.

Kimberly Sherertz, widow of William Sherertz and representative of the estate, had launched a proxy war in November to remove all but one of the company’s board members. The stock repurchase apparently ends those efforts.

Under the agreement, expected to close by April 6, Barrett will also acquire 500,000 shares from Nancy Sherertz. The company, using a combination of $24.9 million in cash and redeemable preferred stock, will purchase all of the shares for $59.7 million.

The preferred stock will have an initial annual dividend rate of 5 percent. The dividend rate will increase by 2 percent a year beginning April 1, 2013, until all of the preferred shares have been redeemed.

The company’s stock repurchase represents about 30 percent of its outstanding shares.

In a news release issued Monday, Michael Elich, Barrett’s president and CEO, said the company believes the stock repurchase will benefit shareholders.

“With this change in our capital structure, we feel well-positioned and highly confident in our growth prospects for 2012 and our ability to drive shareholder value,” Elich said.

Criticizing the company’s executive pay and other policies, Kimberly Sherertz had assembled a list of candidates to replace five of the company’s six board members. She also had previously criticized the company’s board for not holding enough of the company’s stock.

In January, Anthony Meeker, chairman of Barrett’s board, said Sherertz’s moves were “ill-advised” and went against the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ;http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com.