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Safeguard SFE dissidents muscle Lubert, Glass onto board

Russell Glass and Ira Lubert, who muscled their way onto the Safeguard Scientifics board with backing from dissident shareholders, will "complement the strength of the current members," said the chairman who cut a deal with the pair

Ira Lubert
Ira LubertRead moreRobert Neroni

Dissident investors on Monday announced an agreement with Safeguard Scientifics, the Radnor-based, publicly-traded investment company, for dissidents Ira Lubert, the Philadelphia-based real estate and buyout investor, and Russell Glass, a former lieutenant to billionaire investor Carl Icahn, to join the Safeguard board, as part of a five-person slate supported by Safeguard management.

The deal has ended the threat of an opposition slate for this year's Safeguard board election. Robert J. Rosenthal, Safeguard's Chairman, said in the company statement that Glass and Lubert will "complement the strength of the current members."

The dissidents, led by Joseph M. Manko Jr. of the Horton Fund and Darren C. Wallis of Maplewood Capital LLC, had joined forces as Sierra Investments LLC and used their combined 5.1 percent of Safeguard stock to agitate for expense cuts and accelerated asset sales, even after Safeguard chief executive Steve Zarrilli announced staff cuts and gradual liquidation of the company's positions in two dozen tech companies earlier this year. Zarrilli, who chairs the LaSalle University board, said earlier this month that he plans to leave the company.

Lubert was an aide to Safeguard founder Warren "Pete" Musser in the 1990s but left the company before the value of its investments collapsed in 2001, saying at the time he preferred to concentrate on sectors he thorougly understood, such as hotels.

An active political donor in the early 2000s, Lubert went on to become one of the Philadelphia area's largest and most successful investment managers. He and his partners have invested more than $15 billion for clients including the Pennsylvania state (SERS) and public school (PSERS) pension funds, many times the value of Safeguard's current investments in around 25 private tech companies. A leader of the Penn State board of trustees, Lubert also headed the group that built the Valley Forge Casino Hotel, which he later sold.

Breaking: Safeguard Scientifics cuts deal with dissident investors; casino owner and Penn State donor Ira Lubert to join board