BACKGROUND OF SOLICITATION
In 2018, Lawrence Kam, M.D., the principal of Sonic, contacted us on two occasions to recommend that we consider the addition to our Board of three prospective directors, William Greene, Bard Geesaman, M.D., Ph.D., and Mark Lupher, Ph.D. Members of our Board informally considered Dr. Kam’s recommendations and determined not to pursue them because the Board’s recruitment focus at that time was on finding female candidates with strong financial or clinical development expertise.
On December 7, 2018, our Board’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee determined to commence a search for one or more new female directors, and our Board amended our Corporate Governance Guidelines to include the “Rooney Rule” with respect to the inclusion of diverse candidates in any director candidate pool. On December 18, 2018, we engaged a prominent global search firm to assist with our director search and instructed them that diversity would be a key requirement.
On February 5, 2019, Thomas Chalberg, Ph.D. introduced Drs. Kam and Geesaman by email to Patrick Machado, who was then a director and is now our Board chair. Dr. Chalberg was the founder and original chief executive officer of Avalanche Biotechnologies, Inc., one of the two companies that merged in 2016 to form Adverum, but has had no relationship with us since 2016, other than as a stockholder. Dr. Chalberg is copied on many of Dr. Kam’s email messages about us.
About a week after Dr. Chalberg’s introduction, Dr. Kam and Mr. Machado had a telephone conversation, during which Dr. Kam expressed his discontent with the Board’s decision not to pursue his previous director suggestions and again requested that we consider adding multiple new directors, without naming specific candidates. After further discussions with Dr. Kam and his legal counsel, on March 1, 2019 our Board extended the deadline for notice of intended director nominations at the 2019 Annual Meeting by two months, to May 2, 2019. Our Board extended this deadline in order to allow time for Dr. Kam’s prospective directors to be considered as part of the retained search that was then underway.
On March 8, 2019, Mr. Machado emailed Dr. Kam to propose a detailed process for our Board’s consideration, as part of the retained search, of any candidates Dr. Kam might put forward. Dr. Kam did not put forward any candidates in response to this proposal.
On April 22, 2019, at the request of Dr. Kam, Mr. Machado and Leone Patterson, who was then our chief executive officer and a director, met with Dr. Kam. He presented a written list of “settlement” demands that included, among other things, the resignation of one of our directors and the appointment of two unnamed new directors of Sonic’s choosing. He also allowed Mr. Machado and Ms. Patterson to read, but not to retain a copy of, a draft letter from Sonic containing, among other things, several pages of disparaging commentary about one of our directors.
Between April 23, 2019 and April 26, 2019, we agreed with Dr. Kam on a protocol for considering new director candidates and deciding by May 1, 2019 which, if any, would be added to our Board. We agreed that our Board would consider adding two of the three candidates that Dr. Kam would propose, and we arranged for Dr. Kam to interview Rekha Hemrajani, one of the two final candidates who had emerged from our retained search. On April 26, 2019, Dr. Kam named his three candidates: Dr. Kam himself, Dr. Lupher and James Scopa.
Between April 26, 2019 and April 30, 2019, members of our Board interviewed Dr. Lupher and Mr. Scopa, and Dr. Kam interviewed Ms. Hemrajani.
On May 1, 2019, we, Sonic and Dr. Kam entered into a customary, two-year Cooperation Agreement providing for, among other things, the addition of Dr. Lupher, Mr. Scopa and Ms. Hemrajani to our Board and to specified Board committees and the appointment of Mr. Machado as chair of our Board, succeeding the incumbent chair, who retired from our Board.
On June 20, 2019, Dr. Kam emailed Mr. Machado and Ms. Patterson to note that the number of directors attending our annual meetings of stockholders had declined over time and encouraging a higher level of director attendance. Mr. Machado replied later that day.
On July 15, 2019, Dr. Kam emailed Mr. Machado to advise him that Dr. Kam was planning to attend our 2019 Annual Meeting in person and to offer congratulations on our recent progress and increased stock price. Mr. Machado replied later that day.