Investor Takes Stake in Suez Ahead of Key Strategic Decisions
" Financial Times (12/07/18) Keohane, David"
Amber Capital has purchased just over a 1% stake in Suez and is prepared to make key decisions about the company's leadership and strategy. It is now urging the embattled French water and waste group to make moves on its governance, accelerate asset sales, and maximize shareholder returns. "We'd like new management to essentially pay a bit more attention to value creation for shareholders, return on capital employed, and use the opportunity of an ebullient infrastructure market to sell assets and de-lever the company," said Joseph Oughourlian, Amber Capital's founder. The London-based investor says its purchase makes it one of the French utility's top-10 shareholders. Suez has been facing scrutiny since a profit warning in January sent its shares falling 15% in one day. The investment by Amber also comes as Suez prepares to replace CEO Jean-Louis Chaussade and Chairman Gerard Mestrallet, who are scheduled to retire next summer due to statutory age limits. Chaussade is being considered as chairman, despite concern of some shareholders. The decision on the position will be determined largely by top shareholder Engie, which owns one-third of Suez after it was spun out of the energy group 10 years ago.
Keith Meister: Invest in Companies You Believe in and Leave Stock Trading to Computers
" CNBC (12/06/18) Belvedere, Matthew J."
Corvex Management founder Keith Meister recommends that stock investors "do what you do really well" in these turbulent times. "Everyone has different skill sets," said Meister on CNBC on Thursday. "There's people who are going to make a lot of money trading the market [short term]. There's people who are going to make a lot of money having duration." At Corvex, Meister puts himself among the latter, saying he seeks to "buy businesses in the form of public stocks." But he not only selects companies he believes in, he said, but aims to partner with companies to make them better. "I generally believe, if you don't have an edge in the public markets, something that you can do better, you're probably going to be replaced by a computer at some point," he said. "There's more and more of the market and the trading that'll be done by the quantitative players."
Regulators Will Move to Rein In Proxy Advisers in 2019, SEC Chairman Says
" Wall Street Journal (12/06/18) Rubin, Gabriel T."
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton said Thursday that securities regulators will evaluate changes to limit the influence of proxy advisors, including potential new disclosure requirements. The move follows complaints from corporate groups that proxy advisers have too much influence over shareholder votes at public companies, and calls for tighter regulation of the two main proxy advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co. Clayton said the SEC would also take up recommendations on the “plumbing” of the shareholder voting process, which some investors have said is opaque and error-prone. The commission will also consider increasing the ownership thresholds for shareholders to submit proposals for shareholder votes and for the amount of support a proposal must receive for it to be reconsidered in later years, in an effort to limit recurring proposals with little support. “It is clear to me that these issues will not improve on their own with time, and I intend to move forward with the staff recommendations,” Clayton said Thursday. Reining in proxy advisers has been a priority of corporate groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which took out advertisements earlier this year urging the SEC to limit their influence. At an SEC roundtable last month, leaders of ISS and Glass Lewis made clear they oppose the new regulations and that existing disclosures serve investors sufficiently well.
Dan Loeb Sells Baxter International Shares At Strong Gain
" Forbes (12/06/18)"
Daniel Loeb disclosed Wednesday that he divested a portion of one of his highly profitable bets, healthcare company Baxter International (BAX). Loeb sold 22.2% of his stake that he started more than three years ago. At third quarter-end, the company ranked as his biggest long position at 19.4% of reported holdings, nearly double that of his next largest holding, an 11% weighting in Far Point Acquisition Corp. (FPAC). Loeb had no further plans to sell Baxter but would “re-evaluate at any time based on, among other things, performance of the Issuer and market conditions” over the ensuing 90 days, he said in the related filing. The investor did not attribute the sale to any displeasure with management. Loeb's sale constituted 8 million shares, slashing his holding to 28,008,125 shares. The sale, executed at a price per share of $68.62, represented a sizable gain from average share price when he purchased most of the stock in the third quarter of 2015 around $38. When he invested in the company, Loeb in a shareholder letter called it “one of the most promising positions in our portfolio.” The stock then went on to post two strong years, rising 63.68% after a near 1% decline overall in 2018. Loeb's optimism about the company centered on the CEO he helped install in 2016, Jose “Joe” Almeida. Over the next two years, Almeida rolled out a reduction in costs, the exit of some unprofitable products, and a focus on high-margin businesses. Despite strong operational performance over his tenure, the stock fell 9% on Oct. 31 when it reported third quarter results and fourth-quarter guidance, as investors worried he could not continue the momentum.
Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert Offers to Buy Sears Out of Bankruptcy, Including 500 Stores
" USA Today (12/06/18) Bomey, Nathan"
Eddie Lampert, the chairman and largest investor in Sears Holdings (SHLDQ), is offering to purchase the retailer out of bankruptcy, including 500 of its remaining department stores, in what could be the historic retailer's last chance to survive. Lampert, a hedge fund investor who was also CEO until the retailer's October bankruptcy filing, wrote in a letter: "Our proposed business plan envisages significant strategic initiatives and investments in a right-sized network of large format and small retail stores, digital assets, and interdependent operating businesses." The acquisition would keep approximately 50,000 Sears workers employed and would include both Sears and Kmart stores. Lampert's offer is reportedly worth around $4.6 billion.
Clash Could Become Feature in Japan
" Nasdaq (12/05/18) Mak, Robyn"
In Japan, Alpine Electronics' proposed merger with affiliate Alps Electric, which already owns 40% of the company, was approved during an extraordinary shareholders meeting. Oasis Management, Alpine's second-largest shareholder with a 9.9% stake, had opposed the deal, arguing the share-swap proposal undervalued the target. Elliott Management may have been a deciding vote in a deal that squashed the Hong Kong hedge fund's attempt to block the merger. Elliott disclosed a stake in Alpine in late July that eventually grew to 9.8%, and it also held more than 11% of Alps, according to documents submitted to regulators in October. Many similar situations of hedge funds going head to head are set to play out in Japan, writes columnist Robyn Mak. More than 300 Japanese companies are "listed subsidiaries of listed companies," according to analysts at Jefferies. More of these large enterprises may be inclined to consolidate or divest such stakes to improve corporate structures and governance. The Alps episode is a sign that they would be wise to gird for a fight, according to Mak.
Investor to Push Del Frisco's to Sell Itself
" Wall Street Journal (12/05/18) Lombardo, Cara"
Engaged Capital LLC has purchased almost 10% of Del Frisco's Restaurant Group Inc.'s (DFRG) stock and plans to push it to sell itself, according to sources. The hedge fund believes Texas-based Del Frisco's is poorly managing its eateries and rushed into purchasing faster-growing chains to avoid being acquired. "It wants Del Frisco's to add new directors and form a strategic-review committee to consider selling its various brands," the sources said. Shares of Del Frisco's, which operates Double Eagle steakhouses and the more casual Del Frisco's Grilles, have plunged more than 55% since Jan. 1. This past summer, the company acquired Barteca Restaurant Group, which operates Barcelona Wine Bars and Bartaco restaurants, for $325 million. Engaged believes that purchase, in particular, was ill-conceived.
John Wylie Goes From Investment Banker to 'Friendly Activist'
" Australian Financial Review (12/05/18)"
In a Dec. 5 letter to GrainCorp (GRCLF) Chairman Graham Bradley, Tanarra Capital's John Wylie offered an outline of his restructuring proposal, going head-to-head with Long Term Asset Partners' (LATP) Tony Shepherd in the company's $3.3 billion takeover. Observers note that Wylie's move could derail the highly leveraged bid by Shepherd's firm, which is backed by Goldman Sachs and Allianz, and also could turn the highly lucrative traditional investment banking model, in which intermediaries get paid fees to maximize share price returns, on its head. According to Wylie, his role in the GrainCorp situation as that of a "friendly activist." He proposes a demerger of the volatile grains marketing, storage, and logistics business and the sale of the edible oils business, leaving a higher-growth company focused on malt and bulk liquid terminals. "As a shareholder of GrainCorp with a shareholding that is material to our balance sheet, Tanarra believes the (LTAP) proposal substantially undervalues the company and is flawed in numerous respects," Wylie's letter said. "We are not investment bankers or management consultants seeking to be paid cash advisory fees. Our interests are completely aligned with those of all shareholders and as we have indicated to you and your colleagues, we are putting our views forward on a friendly constructive basis after a very substantial amount of proprietary and independent research." However, LTAP says it has the full support of GrainCorp's two largest shareholders, Perpetual Investments and Ellerston Capital, which own about 30% of the company.
U.K. Fund Manager Body Warns Corporate Governance 'Repeat Offenders'
" IPE.com (12/05/18) Pfeuti, Elizabeth"
More than 30 U.K. public companies, including three asset managers, have received a warning about ignoring shareholder concerns from the U.K. trade association for asset managers. Shareholders have criticized the companies over the same issue the past two years, indicating that they had failed to address their concerns, the Investment Association (IA) said in a letter to the 32 companies. "While many companies are taking the necessary action and engaging with their shareholders, a frustrating number are failing to address investor concerns," said Andrew Ninian, director of stewardship and corporate governance at the IA. The companies appeared on the IA's Public Register, which tracks companies that have received more than 20% votes against any resolution. The IA launched a list of "repeat offenders" this month to highlight companies that attract protests on the same issues. Shareholder rebellions have risen by nearly 25% in 2018, according to the register. The number of individual resolutions added has risen by 22% from a year ago.
Glass Lewis Recommends Removal of Detour Gold Chairman and Other Core Long-Term Directors
" Globe Newswire (12/05/18)"
Paulson & Co. Inc. announced Wednesday that Glass Lewis & Co. has issued an extensive report admonishing Detour Gold Corporation (DGC)'s board for appearing “to have been deficient in their oversight function.” In recommending that Detour Gold shareholders vote for “fundamental change” to the board, Glass Lewis said, “We ultimately see validity in Paulson's central thesis that, for substantive change to take hold at the Company, certain of the core and long-term directors who have presided over value destruction and overseen technical failures of prior mine plans need to be replaced.” Glass Lewis also addressed Paulson's concerns about entrenchment regarding long-term directors Michael Kenyon, the interim CEO, and Chairman Alex Morrison. "… we question whether Mr. Morrison is the best individual to lead the board going forward, given Detour's subpar performance and governance concerns arising during his tenure as lead director and now chairman," the proxy advisor said. Paulson notes that a number of major shareholders have already voted for wholesale change to the board of directors, and urges remaining investors to vote ahead of Thursday, Dec. 6.
HK Fund Oasis Fails to Block Takeover of Japan's Alpine
" Reuters (12/04/18) Fujita, Junko"
Hong Kong-based fund Oasis Management, the second-largest shareholder in Alpine Electronics Inc. with a nearly 10% stake, has failed to block the company's sale to larger affiliate Alps Electric Co. (APELY). Alps, which already owns 40% in the car navigation systems maker, had made a bid to buy the Alpine shares it does not already own last year. But Oasis protested that the share-swap proposal undervalued the company. “Our team fought very hard today but unfortunately we lost this game,” said Oasis COO Phillip Meyer after the fund's objection to the deal was overruled at an Alpine shareholder meeting on Wednesday. “But this is the first game of a longer series. We will fight hard in the next game too,” Meyer said, adding Oasis was considering all options, including legal. A Tokyo-based lawyer specialising in corporate governance, Stephen Givens, said voting by Elliott Management may have made the difference in the outcome. Elliott owns a stake in both companies and last week supported Alps' pledge to buy back about 40 billion yen ($354 million) of its shares after the Alpine deal. Separate filings the hedge fund made on Oct. 10 showed it owns 9.78% of Alpine and 11.20% of Alps. “Elliott had much more capital tied up in Alps than Alpine. Basically, Elliott as Alps shareholder was happy to acquire Alpine on the cheap,” Givens said. How Elliott voted at the meeting is not immediately known.
Japan’s Crusade for Corporate Overhaul Under Threat, Watchdog Says
" Wall Street Journal (12/05/18) Russolillo, Steven; Bird, Mike"
Japan took a tumble in the latest corporate governance rankings by the Hong Kong-based Asian Corporate Governance Association. The country slid from fourth place in the previous report to seventh, tied with India, among 12 Asia-Pacific markets. It trailed Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. The watchdog's report blames Japanese regulators for not doing enough to improve minority shareholders' rights. Better governance has been central to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic-revival program, which has led to an increase in buybacks and dividends and a greater percentage of independent board members at Japanese-listed companies. “The last couple of years, we think the reform process is plateauing somewhat,” said Jamie Allen, the governance association's secretary general, citing weak disclosures around takeovers, boardroom diversity, private placements, and executive pay. He said such apparent advances as the increase of audit committees on corporate boards often haven't resulted in genuine improvement. Some investors say management's attitude toward shareholders has improved at many Japanese companies. Still, by measures such as returns on equity, Japanese companies have lagged peers in the U.S. and Europe. Wednesday's report also criticized the stock exchanges of Hong Kong and Singapore for opening to companies with dual-class shares.
Danske Investors Bank on Maersk Clan to Chart Course Through Crisis
" Reuters (12/05/18) Jessop, Simon; Ridley, Kirstin; Jensen, Teis"
Danske Bank's (DNKEY) leading investors want Denmark's Maersk family to steer the nation's biggest lender through the turmoil of a 200 billion euro ($227 billion) money laundering scandal. The family's investment firm A.P. Moller Holding, Danske's normally passive top shareholder with a stake of approximately 21%, has ousted the bank's chairman Ole Andersen and called an extraordinary shareholder meeting for Dec. 7 to nominate two successors to the board. Given the scope of the crisis at Danske Bank and concerns about regulatory penalties, some shareholders are thankful for A.P. Moller Holding's new activist approach. A.P. Moller Holding says it seeks "broad support" for its nominations at the Dec. 7 meeting. It wants to develop a team with the authority to select a replacement for former chief executive Thomas Borgen who resigned in September after admitting that Danske's Estonian branch helped funnel hundreds of billions of euros from nations such as Russia over more than eight years. The threat of a hefty fine from the U.S. Department of Justice has sent the company's shares down nearly 50% since March, erasing about $15 billion of market value and raising the specter of legal action. A.P. Moller Holding wants to nominate Karsten Dybvad, CEO of the Danish confederation of industry, and Jan Thorsgaard Nielsen, its own chief investment officer, as chairman and vice chairman, respectively. A number of top investors say they will back the nominations, which have already been supported by the board, although one complained they had been unable to reach Danske's board directly. "They (Danske) need to understand that they have to open up and talk to their shareholders," said the investor, who declined to be named. "Under the usual corporate governance, you speak to the board."
Moelis Hires From BlackRock, Hedge Fund for Activist Defense Team
" Reuters (12/03/18) Herbst-Bayliss, Svea; Baker, Liana B."
Moelis is the latest investment bank to add to its team advising companies facing activist shareholders. Ted Moon, prevously a principal at Will Mesdag’s hedge fund Red Mountain Capital Partners, recently joined Moelis as an executive director in its Los Angeles office, the bank confirmed on Monday. Moelis reported it also hired Peter da Silva Vint, a former vice president in BlackRock’s investment stewardship unit, as an executive director at the firm’s New York office. He starts on Monday. Craig Wadler, a managing director who heads Moelis’ shareholder defense practice, said Moon and da Silva Vint have "real experience" in what activist hedge funds want to see done and how big index funds think when it comes to voting as shareholders. Investment banks have been working to ensure their defense teams offer corporate America more expertise on how to evaluate governance, executive compensation, and other issues where they may be vulnerable.
Hedge Fund Oasis Seen Blocked by Elliott on Alps-Alpine Deal
" Bloomberg (12/03/18) Lee, Min Jeong; Taniguchi, Takako"
Oasis Management Co. could lose its fight to halt a Japanese takeover after Elliott Management Corp. indicated it may support the deal. Alps Electric Co.’s planned purchase of Alpine Electronics Inc. will come down to a shareholder vote on Dec. 5. Oasis owns 9.9% of Alpine and opposes the takeover; Elliott, which also owns roughly 10%, has declined to comment on its intentions. But Elliott’s actions last week were a clue, says Justin Tang, the Singapore-based head of Asian research at special-situations house United First Partners. Elliott published a statement saying it welcomed Alps’s announcement of a post-merger plan to buy back 40 billion yen ($353 million) in shares. To Tang, that suggests the fund will vote for the deal. Elliott is “driving the bus on this one," Tang said in an interview. "Given Elliott's stake and its public commendation of Alps's 40 billion yen share buyback post the merger, the vote will likely go through." Two-thirds of Alpine's shareholders need to approve the deal. Alps's 40% ownership of Alpine, combined with Elliott's stake, would mean 50% of votes are already decided in its favor. “While we won't comment on any specific shareholder, we believe that any investor who understands these issues and votes in favor of the transaction is voting directly against good corporate governance, which is bad for Japan,” Oasis said in an emailed statement.
Hedge Funds Are Engaging European Telecoms
" Bloomberg (12/04/18) Seal, Thomas"
Amid growing tensions in the telecommunications industry, two U.S.-based hedge funds have been buying into the phone companies and calling a radical solution: stop running phone networks. This paradoxical plan is being tested in Italy, where Elliott Management Corp. overhauled Telecom Italia SpA's board and removed the CEO, bolstering the fund's monthslong campaign for splitting out the company's national network. At the time, Telecom Italia had “no clear strategic path forward” and needed dramatic action such as a spinoff of its network, Elliott said last spring. Elliott has also built a stake in Europe's biggest mobile operator, Vodafone Group Plc. The fund hasn't disclosed the size of its position or its agenda, but just weeks after the investment was reported in July, Vodafone CEO Nick Read floated the idea of inviting outsiders to invest in the company's network of 58,000 cellular towers. Meanwhile, in October, David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital revealed a “medium-sized” stake in BT, just as the carrier underwent a change in management. In a letter to investors, Greenlight said BT could “unlock value” by spinning off Openreach, a network operations subsidiary formed in 2006 to ensure equal access to rival service providers. When incoming CEO Philip Jansen takes the reins in February, frustrated shareholders may demand serious action. The hedge funds say telecom companies should take a page from the energy industry, where pipelines and power grids have largely been separated from retail operations. While the carriers' income-focused shareholders might have once dismissed such a proposal, the sector's stalling growth makes them more inclined to listen to the Americans.
Apollo Global Emerges as Leading Bidder for Arconic
" Bloomberg (12/03/18) Porter, Kiel; Deveau, Scott; Clough, Rick"
Sources say that after a months-long sale process, Apollo Global Management LLC is the leading bidder to take aerospace manufacturer Arconic Inc. (ARNC) private. They note that Apollo made a final offer for Arconic last week that was selected over a bid from a rival group of private equity investors. However, no final agreement has been reached yet. Including debt, Arconic has an enterprise valuation of $15.2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Under the deal, Elliott Management Corp., which owns a 10.7% stake in Arconic, will roll its holding into the new entity.
Litt Pitched a Split Plan to Brookdale
" Bloomberg (11/30/18) Deveau, Scott"
Jonathan Litt has proposed splitting Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (BKD) into a real estate investment trust (REIT) and senior-housing operator, according to sources. Litt’s Land & Buildings Investment Management, which owns a 3.2% stake in Brookdale, has been pressing the company to explore ways to unlock the value of its real estate since 2016. During a teleconference Wednesday with senior executives, Litt argued that moving the company’s best properties to a separate REIT would yield a significant premium to Brookdale’s current share price, the sources said. No agreement was reached on whether to pursue the split, they added. During the conference, Litt called for the company to create a separate senior-home operator that would own some of the properties not included in the REIT, the sources said. Institutionalizing and branding those operations would allow Brookdale to profit from the growth expected in the sector, they said. The two sides also discussed the possibility of Brookdale selling its real estate in $500 million increments until the discount between its trading price and net asset value narrows, they said. Macquarie Investment Management, which owns a roughly 3.9% stake in Brookdale, also urged the company to sell its real estate or the entire company last month, saying management had not identified a clear opportunity to monetize its assets against the backdrop of favorable credit markets.
Paulson Rebuffed From Stocking Detour Board by ISS
" Bloomberg (12/01/18) Deveau, Scott"
Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) has advised Detour Gold Corp.’s (DRGDF) investors to appoint just two of Paulson & Co.’s eight nominees to the board. The proxy adviser said although Paulson had made a case that change was warranted at the Toronto miner, Detour had been responsive to its concerns by appointing three new directors in August and offering to appoint two of the dissident’s nominees to its board. “Despite seeking to replace all but one of the incumbent nominees, the dissident has not articulated a sufficiently detailed go-forward plan,” ISS said in its report issued late Friday. The advisory firm added that due to the company’s prolonged underperformance, investors may want to instill “the board with an even greater sense of urgency and perhaps speed up the CEO search.” It recommended investors consider supporting an additional dissident nominee, such as Dawn Whittaker, in addition to Steven Feldman and Christopher Robison, who are backed by both the company and Paulson. The hedge fund, which owns a 5.7% stake in Detour, argues that extensive changes are needed at the company because the existing board is entrenched and failing shareholders. “Real change for the better will only happen with the replacement of the core, long-term directors who have overseen prolonged value destruction,” Paulson said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate ISS recognized many of the concerns that shareholders have, but they haven't gone far enough. Momentum is building behind the campaign for real change.”
Billionaire Paulson Accuses Detour Gold of ‘Bullying Tactics’
" Bloomberg (11/30/18) Bochove, Danielle"
Paulson & Co.'s founder has accused Detour Gold Corp.'s (DRGDF) of “bullying tactics” and reiterated its claims that Detour executives have mismanaged the company. In a 20-minute speech webcast ahead of a Dec. 11 special shareholders’ meeting, John Paulson pressed Detour investors to vote to overhaul the Toronto-based miner’s board. “Despite our best efforts, the Detour board has used bullying tactics against us,” Paulson said. Accompanied by Paulson & Co. partner Marcelo Kim, they detailed many of the complaints that have arisen in an increasingly contentious proxy fight. “I think this board makes shareholders the laughingstock of the investment community.” Since Paulson first took its complaints with Detour public in June, initially urging the miner to consider a sale, each side has accused the other of providing misleading information. Detour also has served Paulson with a lawsuit, which Paulson dubbed “frivolous.” In its latest letter to shareholders, Detour said Paulson has resisted all its attempts to compromise and said the hedge fund's proposed overhaul would send the miner “backwards.” While the miner sees value in appointing two of Paulson's nominees, it said replacing the entire board “is a recipe for disaster.” Detour says it will resume its search for a replacement for interim CEO Michael Kenyon the day after the proxy fight ends. As chairman and now interim CEO, Kenyon has overseen a huge loss of shareholder value, Paulson said. “We need to send a message to management, to boards and to the industry that entrenched boards that use their position of responsibility solely to enrich themselves will not be tolerated by shareholders.” Paulson says it owns 5.7% of Detour.
Luby’s to Fight Investor Seeking Control of Struggling Restaurant Chain
" Houston Chronicle (11/30/18) Takahashi, Paul"
Luby’s (LUB) announced Friday its board of directors will vote their shares in support of the company's current leadership and strategy, setting up a proxy fight with Bandera Partners. The investor, which has been invested in Luby's for over a decade and owns 8.9% of its outstanding shares, recently nominated five candidates to “improve the board with fresh, independent faces,” according to its letter. It is concerned about the embattled restaurant chain's direction amid growing competition from fast-casual restaurants. Members of Luby's nine-member board of directors are elected to a one-year term at the company's annual shareholders meeting, which is expected to take place early next year. Luby's said Friday it was surprised by Bandera's nominations, which came a few days after the hedge fund approached the restaurant chain's board demanding that it replace a third of its members. The restaurant chain said Bandera didn't give its board enough time to review and discuss the hedge fund's proposed candidates. “Bandera gave the board only 48 hours to agree to their demands,” Luby's said. Meanwhile, Bandera's cofounder Jeff Gramm argued in his letter last week that the company has “evaded substantive discussion” with the investor for weeks. Bandera's impending proxy fight with Luby's would be the first the hedge fund has waged.
Directors Engaging More, Survey Finds
" Royal Gazette (Bermuda) (11/30/18)"
PwC's 2018 annual corporate directors survey finds that board members are engaging more in a wide array of topics including board diversity, strategy oversight, and cybersecurity. The research's findings were presented to Bermuda-based directors and senior executives at the firm's recent DirectorConnect Forum. Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader, observed, "The percentage of directors saying that company strategy should 'very much' take social issues like health care availability and cost, resource scarcity, human rights, and income inequality into account jumped notably, between seven and 10 percentage points from 2017." David Forester, PwC Bermuda director, cautioned that nearly 33% of directors polled say shareholders are "too focused on corporate responsibility." He added that 84% of respondents say diversity enhances a board's performance, but around half warned that board diversity efforts are driven by political correctness and "shareholders are too preoccupied with the topic."
Jack in the Box Courting Potential Buyers
" San Diego Union-Tribune (11/29/18) Freeman, Mike"
Jack in the Box's (JACK) shared jumped almost 6% on Thursday following reports that the fast food chain was exploring strategic options, including a potential sale. The company reportedly began talking to potential buyers this month. Jack in the Box has been under pressure in recent months as Jana Partners and Blue Harbour have acquired stakes. “They feel like they are being besieged by outside agitators, and there is some truth to that,” said John Gordon of industry research firm Pacific Management Consulting Group. In addition, a group representing 2,000 franchisees has called for the removal of CEO Leonard Comma after the departure of the company's long-time chief marketing officer in August. The report of a possible sale comes amid a busy year for mergers in the hotly competitive fast food sector. Last month, Jack in the Box reached a settlement with Jana Partners, agreeing to expand its board and give Jana input on selecting two board members. Blue Harbour, which has acquired a 6.8% stake in Jack in the Box since September, said in a regulatory filing that it has talked with management and the board, and it may do so again regarding a variety of topics including strategic alternatives.