Last updated on March 25th, 2021 at 07:23 pm
Blackwells Capital LLC, an alternative investment management firm with ownership representing an approximately 4.9 percent interest in Supervalu Inc., has nominated six independent candidates for election to Supervalu’s board of directors at the upcoming 2018 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
On March 20, Blackwells submitted a broad slate of independent nominees “given the significant destruction of shareholder value during the tenure of each current director,” the company says, adding that none of its nominees has any connection or relationship to Blackwells itself.
In meetings, letters and presentations to Supervalu management and board members over the past six months, Blackwells says it has communicated shareholders’ frustration with Supervalu’s results and the need for change in its approach to operations, strategy and governance.
Blackwells’ nominees to the Supervalu board are:
- Richard A. Anicetti, a 38-year veteran of the retail food industry who has spent nearly a third of his career serving as a CEO, including of The Fresh Market, a specialty grocery retailer; and of Food Lion, a grocery store company operating more than 1,100 supermarkets.
- Steven H. Baer, an executive with more than 40 years’ executive leadership experience and business turnaround expertise, including as a partner of High Ridge Partners, a private turnaround, restructuring and financial consulting firm; as president and CEO of Koenig & Strey Financial Services, a residential mortgage banking company; as SVP and group head of asset based lending, loan workout and commercial real estate at JPMorgan Chase Bank; and as a director of FirstMerit Corp., a diversified financial services company.
- Robert “Chris” Kreidler, a C-level executive with experience as CFO and EVP of Sysco Corp., a global foodservice company; and as EVP, CFO and chief customer officer of C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., a wholesale grocery supply company.
- Frank Lazaran, a veteran of the food industry, with more than 40 years of experience including as chairman, CEO and president of Marsh Supermarkets, a multi-format regional food retailer; and as CEO, president and a member of the board of directors of Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.
- James J. Martell, a public company director with experience in logistics and transportation, including as a director of Mobile Mini Inc., a provider of portable storage solutions; as director and chairman of the board of XPO Logistics Inc., a public company engaged in the ground and air freight business; as well as earlier management experience at FedEx and UPS.
- Sandra E. Taylor, a pioneer in corporate social responsibility, with experience as president and CEO of sustainable business international LLC, an independent consultancy which specializes in social responsibility for global businesses; as SVP of corporate social responsibility for Starbucks Corp.; and as VP and director of public affairs for Eastman Kodak Co.
Blackwells also has detailed what it says are opportunities to create value for Supervalu shareholders, including:
- Strategic initiatives to drive growth and margins, and reduce Supervalu’s significant valuation discount;
- A sale-leaseback of Supervalu’s wholesale distribution center real estate to reduce net leverage and significantly boost share price;
- A sale or spin-off of the retail segment, transforming Supervalu into a pure-play wholesale business, which would be accretive to EPS and improve valuation multiples; and
- A sale or merger of Supervalu’s strategically attractive wholesale business to or with one of multiple potential competitors.
Jason Aintabi, managing partner at Blackwells Capital, released the following statement along with the announcement of the company’s nominees:
“We continue to believe substantial value exists in Supervalu’s assets, people and business relationships. But, the time has long passed for incrementalism. To unlock value for shareholders, the company must change fundamentally, and change must begin at the board level. We believe a different, and more cohesive and experienced, group of directors are needed to effectuate real change at Supervalu. We are delighted that so many experienced professionals have offered to assist the company and its long-suffering shareholders.
“Supervalu’s board has overseen the worst performance in its peer group over the past three, five and 10 years. Only when facing pressure from shareholders has the company displayed any sense of urgency and its actions have been underwhelming to say the least. The current directors have almost no economic alignment with shareholders and little experience relevant to Supervalu or its challenges. Indeed, while the company highlights a portion of our ownership as being out of the money options, it fails to acknowledge that these options were in the money until the actions of the management team and board so deleteriously affected the share price. The only result that the incumbents have delivered is an increasingly disastrous record of value destruction.
“For the benefit of all shareholders, we have nominated an extraordinarily talented slate of directors to the Supervalu board. They are independent leaders in the retail and wholesale food industry, as well as in logistics and sustainability. Although Blackwells has conducted extensive diligence on each of them, Blackwells has no prior relationship with these professionals. The nominees will work for all shareholders, bringing decades of relevant experience, which the board desperately needs. Most importantly, these nominees are committed to review and reset Supervalu’s failing strategy. Make no mistake: these nominees, if elected, will urgently pursue opportunities to create value on behalf of all shareholders.”