D&B Shareholder Calls for Vote on Sale

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The largest shareholder of Dun & Bradstreet Corp., Murray Hill, NJ, this week requested that the company call a special meeting of shareholders to vote on whether the board of directors should solicit bids for the sale of the business information firm.

Investment firm Harris Associates, Chicago, asked the company to disclose any written and verbal correspondence it has received from other shareholders who are expected to also support a sale of the company.

The latest proposal follows a Sept. 15 board meeting during which D&B was tasked with considering Harris's suggestion to hire an investment advisor to solicit bids. The company also announced the appointment of Frank Sowinski, the chief financial officer of D&B, as president of its struggling business-database unit. Volney Taylor previously held that title in addition to chairman/CEO of D&B.

Harris partner Bill Nygren said D&B's response to its proposal was insufficient.

"Their nonresponse to the suggestion of putting the company up for sale, and their response to change one manager in the D&B operating subsidiary falls far short of what we believe their obligation [is]," he said.

D&B publishes the Moody's Investor Service for bond ratings and is a major provider of business-credit information to direct marketers and others. Last month the company told shareholders that it would not meet analysts' profit projections for the year.

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