J.C. Penney said activist investor Bill Ackman resigned from the company’s board and was replaced by former Federated Department Stores executive Ron Tysoe.
Ackman, a high profile activist investor who founded Pershing Square Capital Management, served on the board for two years. He was in the news most recently for openly criticizing other board members and voicing displeasure with the pace at which the company was conducting a search for interim CEO Myron Ullman’s replacement. In an ironic twist, Ullman was the CEO Ackman sought to replace not long after he acquired a large ownership stake in the retailer, attained a seat on the board and hoped to engineer a transformation of the company.
Ackman’s choice to run the company, former head of Apple stores Ron Johnson, had a short-lived tenure that saw the implementation of costly remerchandising and branding efforts that led to extreme sales declines. J.C. Penney fired Johnson earlier this year and brought Ulman back on a temporary basis. Upset with the CEO selection process, Ackman began issuing public statements last week deriding the board for not moving faster to replace Ullman.
Replacing Ackman, is Ronald Tysoe, whom the company referred to as, “a highly respected retail industry executive.” He spent 16 years at Federation Department Stores, serving as a board member from 1988 to 2005, as vice chairman for finance and real estate from 1990 to 2006 and CFO from 1990 to 1997.
"J. C. Penney is one of America's great companies, and I am very happy to be joining the board of directors. I look forward to working collaboratively with the rest of the board and management to advance the turnaround currently underway,” Tysoe said.
According to Ackman, during his tenure he always advocated for what he thought was in the best interests of the company, including his resignation from the board.
“At this time, I believe that the addition of two new directors and my stepping down from the board is the most constructive way forward for J. C. Penney and all other parties involved,” Ackman said.
J.C. Penney board chairman Thomas Engibous thanked Ackman for his service and noted, “the company is extremely fortunate to have the benefit of Ron Tysoe's judgment and experience at this important time. His deep knowledge of the retail industry and his financial expertise will be invaluable to us as we continue the work underway to return J. C. Penney to profitability and growth.”
Meanwhile, the board gave a vote of confidence to Engibous and Ullman, both of whom have been working tirelessly to position the company for future success.
“This important work has included stabilizing the company's operations and financial position, restoring confidence among vendors, and taking steps to get customers back into stores,” according to a statement from the company.