Klaus Kleinfeld was ousted as the chief executive of Arconic after he sent a letter with a vague threat to hedge fund mogul Paul Singer, The Post confirmed Wednesday night.
Singer’s Elliott Management is seeking to shake up the aerospace parts maker’s board — and getting rid of Kleinfeld was part of the billionaire hedgie’s plan to right what he saw was an underperforming and wobbly ship.
But Kleinfeld took the increasingly personal battle between the two a bit too far, digging up in the letter what he thought was a juicy piece of decade-old gossip: that Singer, after a 2006 World Cup soccer game in Germany, was seen in a fountain singing, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Kleinfeld, a native of Germany, said he had heard the tale from friends and called Singer’s behavior, “legendary.”
“It was much to my delight when I recently learned from Berlin what a phenomenal soccer enthusiast you must be,” Kleinfeld wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.
In the letter, Kleinfeld said he had sent to Singer a 2006 FIFA World Cup Championship official match ball.
“Quite a few people who accompanied you in Berlin during and especially after the many matches you attended are still full of colorful memories about this obviously remarkable time; it indeed seems to have the strong potential to become lastingly legendary,” Kleinfeld wrote.
Elliott, late Wednesday, called the letter “a threat to intimidate or extort a senior officer of Elliott Management based on completely false insinuations.”
The existence of the letter was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal and the German business magazine, WirtschaftsWoche — but neither declared they had seen the letter.
The letter was delivered via messenger last week to Singer’s Elliott Management.
“And by the way: “Singing’ in the Rain” is indeed a wonderful classic — even though I have never tried to sing it in a fountain,” Kleinfeld wrote in the letter’s postscript.
Though denying the insinuations, Elliott found the letter so bizarre that it promptly alerted Arconic’s board.
“We are interested in shareholder value and putting Arconic on the right track, not games and false innuendo even if coached in clever ambiguities,” Elliott’s lawyer, Richard Zabel, said in a letter to Arconic’s board last week.
Arconic said the letter showed “poor judgment” and announced Monday that Kleinfeld had agreed to step down from his role as chairman and CEO.
Reps from Arconic declined to comment.
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