U.S. Markets closed

SPX settles with Relational, giving option of board seat

NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) - SPX Corp agreed to give activist firm Relational Investors the option to put one of its founders on the diversified U.S. manufacturer's board of directors, after nearly a year of the fund pushing for change at the company.

SPX and Relational said in a statement on Tuesday that the investment firm can choose to put principal and co-founder David Batchelder on the manufacturer's board over the period between the company's 2014 annual meeting and 60 days preceeding its 2015 annual meeting.

In exchange, Relational has agreed to vote for SPX's board nominees.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with SPX and are encouraged by the progress the company made in 2013," Batchelder said in the statement.

He said Relational believes the company should focus on increasing operating profit margins, selling off non-core assets and balancing growth with investment returns.

Relational is the company's largest investor, holding around 15.5 percent of its shares. The fund publicly announced its stake in SPX in February 2013, asking that the manufacturer consider strategic alternatives and stop making new acquisitions.

SPX announced a deal last month to sell its entire stake in an electrical equipment joint venture to partner Emerson Electric Co for $571 million.

SPX has been buying and selling businesses to focus on its flow technology division, joining other diversified U.S. industrial companies that have slimmed down their businesses since the economic crisis of 2008-2010.