Advisor backs Burkle nominees in Barnes & Noble proxy fight
New York City Proxy-advisory firm Institutional Shareholders Services (ISS) said it has recommended that Barnes & Noble shareholders select board directors nominated by billionaire investor Ronald Burkle as part of his proxy fight against the retailer, according to a Monday report by the Wall Street Journal.
Among the nominees recommended by ISS include Burkle himself, as well as Stephen Bollenbach, chairman of KB Homes and former CEO of Hilton Hotels Corp., and Michael McQuary, CEO of Wheego Electric Cars and former president of Earthlink.
Burkle and company are battling Barnes & Noble founder and largest shareholder Leonard Riggio, who is also up for re-election on the board and wasn’t recommended by ISS.
Investors will vote on Sept. 28.
“Based on [Barnes & Noble’s] deteriorating operating performance, poor shareholder return, less-than-enthusiastic analyst recommendations, inadequate transparency … we believe the dissidents have demonstrated a compelling case that change in the BKS board is warranted,” ISS is quoted as saying in theWSJ report.
The recommendation by ISS is a blow to Barnes & Noble’s efforts to stave off Burkle. With votes dividing between Burkle or Riggio camps, the deciding vote is expected to come from institutional shareholders and index funds. That means the recommendation by ISS, the largest and most influential proxy advisory firm that has institutional investors as its client, could play a key role in determining the outcome of the Barnes & Noble proxy fight, according to WSJ.
Barnes & Noble’s nominee slate consists of, besides Riggio, David Golden, a partner in Revolution LLC, an investment company, and David Wilson, CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, a non-profit education group.
As part of his battle, Burkle is petitioning shareholders to amend the company’s “poison pill” antitakeover provision, which has prevented him from upping his ownership stake. ISS recommended that the threshold to trigger the poison pill be raised from 20% to 30%.
Gerstman Group hires director of e-commerce sales
Garden City, N.Y. Garden City, N.Y.-based Gerstman Group hired Steve White as director of e-commerce sales. In his new post, White will be responsible for driving the sales of products from manufacturers represented by Gerstman Group, a retail sales and service firm, into the dot-com channel.
According to Gerstman, electronic commerce represented a $135 billion marketplace in 2009.
White most recently ran his own e-commerce sales agency, representing manufacturers in the home channel industry to both Internet-only and brick-and-mortar retailer websites. Prior to establishing his agency, he was president and partner for over 18 years at Triple-S Marketing Group, a company that provided sales and service to national and regional home center retailers.
Wal-Mart creates four core merchandising areas
New York City Wal-Mart Stores will remain without a chief merchandising officer for its U.S. stores for the time being. Instead, the chain has named four new product heads to take over that responsibility, according to a Reuters report.
In a Sept. 3 memo to employees, Bill Simon, chief executive of the U.S. division, outlined four merchandising areas — general merchandise and replenishment; food; softlines; and a group that includes consumables, health and wellness and walmart.com — to be led by “seasoned merchants.”
Wal-Mart’s previous head of merchandising was John Fleming, who left the company as of Aug. 1.