NEW YORK — Firing back at dissident director Marc Kozberg, Cone Mills Corp. chairman, president and chief executive officer John Bakane released a statement late Monday claiming Kozberg filed a “pointless” lawsuit to have a court set a date for Greensboro, N.C.-based Cone’s next annual shareholders’ meeting.

Bakane said the meeting has already been set for Sept. 25. Typically, Cone’s annual meetings have been held in March. Its last fiscal year ended Dec. 29.

Kozberg, together with a group of other investors, owns a 9.5 percent stake in the mill. He’s been a major shareholder since 1998 and in 1999 made an offer to take the company private, which was rejected. As reported, last week he filed a proxy statement seeking the election of three directors.

“Cone considers this action to be solely to gain publicity for Mr. Kozberg and his group,” Bakane said in the statement. “It appears to me that Mr. Kozberg enjoys lighting fires so that he can take credit for putting them out.”

Bakane also complained that Kozberg has criticized the company’s failure to recapitalize, but opposed a deal earlier this year to sell $27 million in convertible debt to W.L. Ross & Co., the firm that plans to buy Burlington Industries out of bankruptcy.

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