The leading proxy advisory firms that aid institutional investors in voting their shares at annual and special meetings are backing Aerojet Rocketdyne [AJRD] President and CEO Eileen Drake and her slate of directors over a competing faction led by Warren Lichtenstein, the company’s executive chairman, ahead of a shareholder meeting on June 30 to decide membership on the board.

Drake and the director nominees on her slate this week said Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis both backed their nominations for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s board, which is currently evenly split between factions led by Drake and Lichtenstein.

“We are very gratified to have received Glass Lewis’ full support for our Independent Slate,” Drake said in a press release on June 22 issued by the Committee for Aerojet Rocketdyne Shareholders and Value Maximization, which includes Drake and seven additional director nominees. “We now have the validation of the two leading independent proxy advisory firms, and look forward to shareholders casting their vote at the June 30th special meeting.”

The committee on Tuesday said that they had received ISS’ support for its full slate of candidates and then on Wednesday announced the full support of Glass Lewis. The complete text of the advisory firms’ recommendations were not released but Drake’s committee posted selected quotes from both.

“[W]e consider [the Drake nominees] each appear credible and independent, with the slate collectively offering well-round experience in the aerospace and defense industry,” Glass Lewis stated, according to a June 22 filing by Drake’s committee with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “[W]e note Ms. Drake is a sitting CEO who, in our view, has already demonstrated strategic and operational credibility and reasonable value-creation bona fides. We do not believe Mr. Lichtenstein has been successful in reshaping that narrative, and would, as a result, question the need for Ms. Drake to essentially reinvent the operational wheel simply to impress the Steel Faction at this juncture.”

The Steel faction refers to Steel Partners [SPLP], a holding company led by Lichtenstein that owns about 5.6 percent of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s stock.

In a June 20 filing with the SEC that included an investor presentation by Drake’s committee, the committee quoted from ISS’s recommendation: “It is also worth noting that Lichtenstein’s internal bastion of support in this contest has come from directors with whom he has business or personal relationships, suggesting that independent minds are not attracted to his message.” ISS, according to the committee, also stated “The fracturing of the board along lines of independence should be a signal to shareholders. In light of these factors, support is warranted for the Drake Slate.”

Following release of ISS’s recommendation, Lichtenstein on June 21 shot back.

“It is unfortunate that ISS issued a report that lacks any substantive analysis of the respective slates’ business assessments, credentials, CEO candidates and strategic plans,” Lichtenstein said in a statement. “ISS clearly lacks the ability to evaluate the business aspects of companies in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s sector. Clients who have capital at risk and were looking for informed voting perspectives deserved better than an unjustifiably one-sided report that reads like a highly personalized newspaper editorial.”

Lichtenstein also said he has faith that institutional investors can decide for themselves how to vote at the June 30 meeting rather than follow ISS’s recommendation.

Drake and Lichtenstein have engaged in a tit-for-tat proxy battle that blew into the open earlier this year when the U.S. government moved to block Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] proposed acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne due to competitive concerns.

Among a litany of complaints, Lichtenstein maintains that Drake was slow to craft a contingency plan for the company in the case the deal fell through. He also has highlighted declining free cash flow at the company due to underperforming business units and said that in 2021 Aerojet Rocketdyne wasn’t meeting production deadlines or delivering products on time.

Drake, in the committee’s latest investor presentation, highlights that Aerojet Rocketdyne’s sales in 2021 were $2.2 billion, averaging a 4.4 percent compounded annual growth rate since posting $1.7 billion in sales in 2016 and nearly 20 percent annual growth in adjusted per share earnings over the same period to $1.97 in 2021.

Last week the Delaware Court of Chancery found in favor of some of Lichtenstein’s claims that Drake and her faction pursued their side of the proxy battle without the legal authority to do so on behalf of the company. The court ordered the Drake faction to issue a public release, which it did so this week, noting that their views were not the company’s.

The court did not agree to Lichtenstein’s claim for the Drake faction to pay his legal fees in the case and didn’t endorse either sides’ slate of board candidates.

In addition to Drake, her slate includes incumbent directors Lance Lord and Kevin Chilton who are retired Air Force generals, incumbent director Thomas Corcoran, and Marion Blakey, Gail Baker, former NASA director and retired Marine two-star general Charles Bolden, and Deborah Lee James, former Secretary of the Air Force. Lichtenstein’s slate includes himself, Mark Tucker, a former chief operating officer at Aerojet and his candidate to be the company’s new CEO, incumbent director Martin Turchin, Tina Jonas, Joanne Maguire, Aimee Nelson, Heidi Wood, and retired Navy Vice Adm. Mathias Winter.