NEW YORK – Sam Wyly may be down - but he's not out.
The Texas billionaire was sent packing by 75 percent of voting Computer Associates shareholders - according to a preliminary count - who reelected the incumbent board.
But while CA founder Charles Wang and his CEO, Sanjay Kumar, were victorious, Team Wyly claimed a win, too - and vowed they'd be back.
Wyly and his holding company, Ranger Governance, saw their "short slate" of four director nominees outvoted three to one. After the vote they rushed to their fleet of black SUVs and hurried back to their hotel.
"We'll be keeping an eye on CA to make sure they keep their promises," Wyly told The Post last night. "Some big institutional investors traded their votes for us on Friday in exchange for promises that CA would get rid of two of Wang's oldest cronies real soon." Wyly said he believed they are co-founder Russell Artz and Willem F.P. de Vogel.
A typical example of the Wyly method was taking stock in Earth Resource, an oil refining company, and pressuring the board into making changes until the stock rose from $17 to $56 in nine months. "Nineteen times out of 20 what we do doesn't make the newspapers. But I guess saying, ‘Selling that silver mine would be good for shareholders' is not as important as CA, which is in need of radical change. And it can't be sold."
He refused to identify the companies on which he had his eye, but said, "There's been some high-tech crashes, and there'll be some real bargains in the next year."
More than 1,400 people showed up for the annual meeting.
Wang, who sported a bandage on his right arm, was in a happy mood. Later he told a press conference, "There's no truth to the rumor that we are buying 100 shares of Michael's Stores." Wyly, who owns arts-and-crafts chain Michael's, owns just 100 shares of CA, although he manages around 600,000 shares and has options for another 1.5 million.
Wang's and Kumar's team made their point about how innovative CA really is with videos and rock music on stage, while employees whooped and applauded on their feet in the packed auditorium.
Wyly's man in the lion's den, Steve Perkins, co-founder of Sterling Commerce, which Wyly sold to CA, had five minutes to make his case before the shareholders.
Dick Grasso and former Sen. Al D'Amato were among those re-elected. Asked if he thought he would still be there in a year's time, D'Amato grunted, "I hope so."
Perkins said he and Wyly would be making sure Ranger Governance works more in future along the lines of ISS, Calpers and Proxy Monitor, all of which "are happy to get on a plane and find out what's really going on at companies they invest in."
Ranger Capital manages $7 billion in assets, which could be used to pressure companies in Wyly's favorite fields - gas and oil, clean energy, retail and food.
Perkins said the philosophy is, "Good governance leads to good returns."
Both sides spent an estimated $15 million fighting for control of the board.
Wyly and his team of 20 last night headed out to for what they were calling a "victory dinner" at the swanky Park Avenue Cafe at 63rd St.