Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. — Dissident Office Depot shareholder Alan Levan of The Woodbridge Group has withdrawn his pair of board nominees after four separate proxy advisor groups recommended that stockholders reject the slate at the company’s annual meeting next week.
“Rather than continue this costly battle, we have decided not to propose our candidates for election at the meeting,” Levan said in a statement. “However, we hope that Office Depot’s board and management heed our call for action, as well as the calls for change delivered by the proxy advisory firms.”
Levan had taken the office supply chain’s board and management to task for the company’s poor financial and marketplace performance in recent years. His candidates, past presidents of Office Depot and Staples, were intended to replace current CEO Steve Odland and former CEO Dave Fuente, who are up for re-election next week.
In an open letter to shareholders, Office Depot said it “appreciate[s] the support from stockholders for your board and management that caused Mr. Levan to recognize the likely outcome of his proxy campaign. With the proxy contest behind us, we will continue to press ahead with the implementation of our strategic plan. Your board and management are committed to taking every step necessary to improve your company’s performance.”
Four different proxy voting advisory services independently recommended that Office Depot’s shareholders reject Levan’s nominees. One of the firms, Egan-Jones Proxy Services, found that the candidates’ plans “lack sufficient detail,” while Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) cited their lack of qualifications, their failure to prove that they would be better able to effect positive changes at Office Depot than current management, and the poor performance of Levan’s companies.