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Highfields Calls for New Independent Directors at CoreLogic

Highfields Capital Management LP, the $11 billion investment firm run by Jonathon S. Jacobson, urged CoreLogic Inc. to consider more independent candidates for its board of directors.

“The board requires new skills, perspectives and emphasis on accountability that can only come from a substantial change in its composition,” Jacobson and Managing Director Farhad Nanji said in a letter today sent to D. Van Skilling, CoreLogic’s chairman. “We know several high quality candidates who fit that bill, and we expect that other shareholders do as well.”

CoreLogic, which sells property and credit data, said on Feb. 27 that its board voted to end a strategic review started in August to explore options including a sale or merger of the company and divestiture of some of its businesses. The following day, Highfields called for a management change, saying the Santa Ana, California-based company failed to meet promises on monitoring management’s progress on its latest operating plan.

Highfields said CoreLogic in the past failed to take steps to add independent directors, consider candidates or contact other shareholders for nominations. The Boston-based hedge fund owns a 7.7 percent stake in CoreLogic, making it the largest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Neither the company nor its stakeholders will be properly served by a board that continues to be dominated by hand-picked legacy directors without these skills, or by cosmetic changes of the sort begrudgingly made in the past,” Jacobson and Nanji said in today’s letter.

‘Reluctantly and Belatedly’

Alyson Austin, a CoreLogic spokeswoman, didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment.

Highfields said it had privately urged CoreLogic a year ago to address conflicts and potential antitrust violations inherent in Parker S. Kennedy’s role as executive chairman of both CoreLogic and Santa Ana-based First American Corp. CoreLogic acknowledged such interests in a June 2010 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CoreLogic was created in 2010 when First American split into two companies. First American owned 5.6 percent of CoreLogic as of Nov. 7, making it the second-largest shareholder, data compiled by Bloomberg show. CoreLogic competes with First American in some of its businesses such as operating real estate databases, according to a 2010 SEC filing.

Highfields said that Kennedy stepped down from CoreLogic “reluctantly and belatedly” following the departure of two independent directors who were neither chosen by Kennedy or Skilling.

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