By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
NEW YORK, April 9 (Reuters) - Asset manager Neuberger Berman Group said it had nominated three directors to the board at Verint Systems Inc to try and push the U.S. software company to clarify its strategy and corporate structure plans.
Neuberger, which owns 2.6 percent of Verint and has been a long-term shareholder, wrote to the company last month that it wants to install Oded Weiss, Mark Greene and Beatriz Infante as directors, Verint disclosed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.
Neuberger, which has not yet made a public filing on the matter, confirmed the nominations in an interview.
"We'd like a constructive dialogue, but the company is being defensive," said Neuberger portfolio manager Benjamin Nahum. He added that he would like management and the board to lay out a framework to solve long-term issues that have hurt the company in the past.
Traditionally Neuberger has preferred to work behind the scenes, keeping its discussions with management private. Recently, however, it has become more comfortable in pushing for changes publicly, joining other active money managers who say they can distinguish themselves from index funds that have lower fees. It has publicly agitated at companies including Nuance Communications and Whole Foods Market.
Nahum asked for a meeting with the entire board to hear its plans on future structure and capital allocation. "We are not telling them to do anything short term, we just want to hear them out," Nahum said.
Verint, whose stock price has jumped 56 percent in the last 12 months, said none of Neuberger's proposed directors were suitable as potential board members.
The board said in a statement "that none of these candidates' skills are additive to the current board."
Verint also said that the board's strategy had paved the way for strong performance and that its eight board members had the right mix of skills to ensure that the company performed to its potential. The company said that it routinely refreshes its board and added a director in 2017 who was recommended by Neuberger.
"Neuberger's nomination of directors is demonstrably unwarranted," it said.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)