Kohl’s sees push from activist investor for removal of CEO, Chairman (update) [Activist Investor]

Kohl"s Department Stores Receives Unsolicited Bid From Hedge Fund Starboard Value LP

Justin Sullivan

Update 4:45pm: Adds Axios report on potential CEO replacement.

Activist investor Ancora Holdings, one of the hedge funds that pushed for a board shake-up at Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) last year, is now advocating for the the ouster of the retailers’ CEO and board chairman. Kohl’s ticked up 0.3% in premarket trading.

Ancora, which has a 2.5% stake in Kohl’s (KSS), wants the retailer to replace CEO Michelle Gass and board Chairman Peter Boneparth, according to a letter viewed by Seeking Alpha.

The push comes after Kohl’s shares have plunged 22% since Kohl’s ended a strategic review and potential sale of itself to Vitamin Shoppe owner Franchise Group (FRG) in early July after investors, including Ancora, had pushed the company to sell itself.

The “combination of the Boneparth-led Board’s ineffective leadership and management’s poor execution, as evidenced by the Company’s numbers, compel us to call for a new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at this critical fork in the road,” Ancora CEO Frederick DiSanto and President James Chadwick wrote in a letter. “We urge the Board to announce a thoughtful succession plan and run a robust search process that accounts for interviewing a highly diverse group of qualified candidates.”

Kohl’s (KSS) board member Thomas Kingsbury is among candidates that activist Ancora is likely to push as a replacement for Gass, Axios Pro reported, citing two people familiar. Another source told the publication that Kingsbury may also be a candidate to replace Boneparth.

Last April Kohl’s announced it had entered a settlement agreement with a group of investors that includes Macellum Advisors, Ancora Holdings, Legion Partners Asset Management and 4010 Capital.

The news was earlier reported by Reuters.

The latest report also comes after a Reuters item earlier this month that Oak Street Real Estate made an offer to buy as much as $2 billion of property from the department store chain.

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