Icahn escalates Xerox row

By Jo Francis, Wednesday 13 December 2017

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The row between Xerox investor Carl Icahn and the group’s board has escalated after Icahn posted an open letter to Xerox shareholders calling for change at the top of the company.

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Icahn: calling for new blood in Xerox boardroom

In the letter, the full text of which can be found here, Icahn took issue with the Xerox statement issued after his board representative resigned earlier this week, which Icahn said was “due to disagreements over issues vital to Xerox’s current and future wellbeing”. Icahn now wants to add four of his representatives to the Xerox board.

Icahn is Xerox’s biggest shareholder, with a 9.7% stake.

He claimed that most of the increase in Xerox’s share price was because of the business being split into two companies: Xerox and Conduent, and that had only happened because Icahn himself had pushed for the change.

“If the long-tenured directors at Xerox continue to refuse to acknowledge that change is needed, then we believe it is mandatory for shareholders to speak up and demand that further new blood be introduced into the boardroom,” Icahn stated in his letter.

He also drew unflattering parallels with Kodak, which went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012.

“Yesterday, Xerox released a statement that paints a rosy picture of what is in reality a bleak situation that I fear could turn out like that of Eastman Kodak, where Xerox chairman Bob Keegan worked for over 25 years and Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson also served as a senior executive,” he said.

However, Jacobson only worked at Kodak for two years, between 2005 and 2007, when he was chief operating officer at its Graphic Communications Group. Prior to that he spent seven years at Kodak Polychrome Graphics, five of them as CEO, which at the time was a joint venture between Kodak and Sun Chemical.

Keegan left Kodak in 2000.

Xerox had not commented on Icahn’s letter to shareholders at the time of writing.

The group's shares rose slightly yesterday, by 0.54%, to $29.74 (£22.28). 

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