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Activist investor files to nominate two directors to Ingles board

GAMCO Asset Management owns nearly 9% of company’s Class A shares

An investment group led by activist investor Mario Gabelli has increased its holdings in Ingles Markets and said it plans to nominate two directors to the company’s board.

GAMCO Asset Management, based in Rye, N.Y., said in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was the “beneficial owner” of more than 1.26 million shares of Ingles stock, for an 8.98% ownership stake in the outstanding Class A shares.

The firm said it would nominate Justyn R. Putnam and John “Jack” R. Lowden as directors at Ingles’ 2018 annual shareholder meeting.

Asheville, N.C.-based Ingles could not be reached for comment and a spokesman for GAMCO declined further comment.

“At this time any additional comments regarding this holding would be made in another public filing with the SEC,” said George Maldonado, director of proxy voting services, GAMCO.

It was not clear what action, if any, GAMCO might encourage Ingles to take, but Ingles has been one of the regional chains long mentioned as a potential acquisition target.

GAMCO has been a longtime shareholder of Ingles, which is closely held and tightly controlled by the Ingle family.

According to the website Investopedia, Gabelli prefers to be known as a “catalyst” investor rather than an “activist” investor.

“One of the differentiating aspects of Gabelli's approach is the belief in strong, smart corporate leadership,” the website states. “Unlike many other activists, Gabelli does not look to oust poor managers or board members; rather, he encourages competent managers to make changes that encourage shareholder value.”

Both of GAMCO’s director nominees have backgrounds in investment. Putnam previously had been founder and CEO of Putnam Construction Corp., a North Carolina real estate development company, and Lowden has experience in private equity mergers and acquisitions.

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